Skills Development for Public Health

Management Insider takes a walk with Dr Didier Fontenille, the director of the Pasteur Institute of Cambodia (IPC), who discusses its specific needs to answer his major challenges.

Under the patronage of the Cambodian Ministry of Health, the IPC needs to monitor, diagnose, and control a few major infectious diseases daily such as malaria, dengue fever, tuberculosis, AIDS, hepatitis, and rabies, which are still occurring, and others, such as Zika, pandemic influenza, infectious cancers and fungal diseases that remain a threat. The non-profit international research organisation, has three main missions: research in biology and health; support public health in Cambodia and Southeast Asia; and training in research and public health.

With 220 people employed, 70 scientists with a master’s degree or a PhD and 70 technicians, the IPC has an excellent technical platform but regularly needs highly skilled, high-performing technicians, engineers and researchers to complete its team. High-levels scientists are difficult to recruit (explains Dr Didier Fontenille).

The IPC could strengthen its public services, such as in food microbiology and water analysis, international immunisation, medical biology, and such, but a lack of human resources remains a barrier to the development of IPC activities, with local universities so far putting little focus on these disciplines. In order to respond to its missions and to strengthen its capacities, the IPC has therefore put in place a four axis action plan in a bid to increase the pool of professionals in these fields:

  • Develop collaborations with Cambodian universities: Agreements have so far been signed with the University of Health Sciences (UHS) and Institute of Technology Cambodia (lTC). Seminars have been presented to students in the major universities of biology and health in Cambodia in order to motivate them to consider a career in research and public
  • Create an international-standard master’s program in infectious disease, incollaboration with the UHS and international universities, and then attract young scientific talents to study the course.
  • Strengthen IPC human resources with national and international training programs, in particular on modern techniques or concepts such as biostatistics, genomics and data management.
  • Provide career opportunities for the most promising scientists: In 2017, the IPC welcomes 25 students from Cambodia and overseas for long-term internships, with the hope that some of them will choose to pursue a career at IPC.


Dr Didier Fontenille is the director of the Pasteur Institute of Cambodia