Newsletter June 2012

ICRH Belgium Newsletter

 15th of June, 2012


Marleen Temmerman goes to Geneva…

ICRH’s founder, driving force and director Prof. Marleen Temmerman has been selected as the new director of the WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research.

Marleen Temmerman started her career as a gynaecologist in Kenya, where she conducted research on the impacts of HIV on women. Five years later, she returns to Belgium where she obtains her PhD and is appointed the first female Obstetrics/Gynaecology professor in Belgium. As a professor at Ghent University, she continues to be very concerned with reproductive health and rights of vulnerable groups and in resource poor settings,  and in 1994 she establishes the International Centre for Reproductive Health, which is in 2004 recognized as a WHO Collaborating Centre. In 2007 she was elected as a Senator in Belgian parliament. Marleen Temmerman has been very successful in her academic career: she (co-)authored more than 300 scientific articles, was involved in more than 200 research projects and promoted nearly 30 PhD thesises and received numerous awards and recognitions, including the BMJ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. As a consequence of her appointment at WHO, Marleen will renounce many of her numerous mandates, including her position as senator in the Belgian parliament, and her position of Head of Dept OB/GYN at the Ghent University Hospital.




ICRH partner in new European research project

The project "Approaching forced marriages as a new form of trafficking in human beings in Europe" (MATRIFOR) has been approved by the European Commission Directorate-General Home Affairs.

The action grant is specifically targeted at 'trafficking in human beings'. The University of Barcelona (Universitat Autònoma De Barcelona) will coordinate the project, together with partners ICRH (Ghent University) in Belgium and Le Onde, an anti-violence network and counselling centre, in Italy.

The MATRIFOR project aims to study forced marriages as a new form of trafficking in human beings in Europe. It will provide more knowledge about its causes, influencing factors and impact on the life and the family of the potential victims. In addition, the project will analyze the main obstacles and difficulties to legally address forced marriage in the participating countries. The methodology of the project includes fieldwork research through in-depth interviews with health services, social services, NGO's, teachers, police, judges, lawyers, migrant associations and victims or potential victims of forced marriage. A legal analysis of the existing legal frameworks in the EU Member States to address forced marriage will be carried out. As a result of these research activities, the project will develop policy and legal proposals and recommendations to transpose the EU Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011, on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, into national law. Finally, training and awareness raising materials will be produced, specifically addressed at the target groups and beneficiaries of the project. Pilot workshops will be organised in each participating country to test the developed materials.

The project is estimated to start in September 2012 and will run for 3 years.

More information:



The ICRH LuMIMA project was a big success!

On May 10th 2012 ICRH organized the interactive event LuMIMA, an information and sensitization initiative within the framework of the Belgian Development Days.

LuMIMA started at 3 p.m. with ‘Think & Taste’, an information market about the Millennium Development Goals 4 & 5 (reducing child mortality and improving maternal health). Various  organizations working in the field were present such as Doctors without Borders, Handicap International, Amnesty International, FOS, UNICEF and more. The following speakers gave a presentation on topics related to child- and maternal health: Prof Dr Temmerman (Senator and director ICRH), Dr Annelies Verdoolaege (Ghent Africa Platform), Fadumo Abdi Nasir (testimony FGM), Ivan Hermans (UNFPA), Yves Kluyskens (Katako-Kombe) and Eva de Plecker and Daphne Lagrou (Doctors without borders). The given presentations are available on the LuMIMA webpage . During the afternoon expositions and videos were shown and Jim Cole and Sherman provided a musical tough. At 8 p.m., Lieven Scheire started the presentation of a big MD4 MD5-quiz in which more than 400 people participated. In the finals Joetz vzw challenged a group of eminent professors and celebrities among whom Prof Temmerman, Daniel Termont (Mayor of Ghent), Prof Dr Rik Torfs (Canon Law and senator), Tom Coenye (elected ‘the coolest professor of Ghent University 2012’) and Miss Laura Beyne (Miss Belgium 2012) and won the first price: a trip to Kenya. In June 2012 they will travel to Mombasa to visit ICRH Kenya projects related to child and maternal health. Their impressions will be available in an online diary on the LuMIMA webpage. For more information, have a look at: or contact:


ICRH represented at the First China-EU High-level People to People Dialogue Forum

On April 18, ICRH researchers Dr. Wei-Hong Zhang and Dr. Jinke Li were invited to the 1st CHINA-EU High-level People to People Dialogue Forum (HDDP) held in Brussels, Belgium.

This forum was advocated by the leaders of China and the EU in an effort to accelerate the mutual relationships. Senior officials attended the forum, including China state councillor Yandong Liu and EU commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism and youth, Mrs. Androulla Vassiliou. The forum was preceded by a Chinese education exhibition in which more than ten top universities from China participated.

About two hundred high level scholars from China and the EU attended the forum. Dr. Li is a post-doc research fellow at ICRH, Gent University and  was selected by the Chinese Embassy to Belgium. During the forum, Dr. Zhang and Dr. Li had an interactive discussion with Chinese and EU scholars on the China-EU relationship and further opportunities of cooperation. They had also the opportunity to discuss with Chinese university presidents on how to promote complementary collaborations and how to attract European youth to study in China.

Chinese state councilor Yangdong Liu announced that the Chinese government will provide over 30,000 scholarships to EU students to study in China in the coming years.

More information: Wei-Hong Zhang,


ICRH member of the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition.

In May 2012, ICRH joined the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition.

 The Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition is a global partnership of public, private, and non-governmental organizations dedicated to ensuring that all people in low- and middle-income countries can access and use affordable, high-quality supplies to ensure their better reproductive health. The Coalition brings together diverse agencies and groups with critical roles in providing contraceptives and other reproductive health supplies. These include multilateral and bilateral organizations, private foundations, governments, civil society, and private-sector representatives.

More information:


Appeal for worldwide ban on female genital mutilation

On 3 May, the Belgian Senate hosted the launch of an appeal for a UN resolution that explicitly bans female genital mutilation and calls on all states to take measures.

The event was organized by the international NGO ‘Coalition for a worldwide ban on female genital mutilation’,  under the auspices of the Presidence of the Belgian Senate and with the presence of H.E. Mrs Chantal Compaoré, First Lady of Burkina Faso, Goodwill Ambassador of the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices and Coordinator of the International Ban FGM Campaign. The Coalition has been campaigning since 2010 for the United Nations General Assembly to adopt a Resolution banning the practice. Such a Resolution would provide the highest-level expression of political will and be an essential step towards ending this violation of human rights. 

The African Group at the UN is currently spearheading the effort to draft a Resolution. In support of the African Group’s effort to ensure the effectiveness of the Resolution as an instrument for governments and activists working to bring an end to this human rights violation, the Ban FGM Coalition is launching an appeal to the United Nations for a Resolution that explicitly bans female genital mutilation worldwide, and calling on all States to adopt and implement legislation to ban female genital mutilation and to take all necessary legislative, political and operational measures aimed at ending the practice.

Els Leye, as board member of La Palabre, co-moderated the event and was, together with Marleen Temmerman from ICRH, one of the first signatories to the Appeal.

For more information:



ICRH Activity Report 2011

The 2011 ICRH Activity Report has been published and can be downloaded from our website.

covercoverThe report is available in PDF at

A brief presentation with the highlights can be downloaded from




Call for papers and posters on ‘Africa & (post-)development’

The Africa Platform of Ghent University Association (GAP) invites submissions of posters and papers for its 6th international conference (GAPSYM6) 'Africa & (post-)development?', which will take place on the 7th of December 2012.

Paper proposals (max. 300 words, in English or French) should be submitted before 1 August 2012 to the GAP secretariat (, mentioning “GAPSYM6 – proposal”. By 1 October the scientific committee will notify which papers have been accepted. GAP offers doctoral students and other researchers the opportunity to present their research projects by means of a poster. Posters do NOT have to refer to the theme of the symposium. Through these poster presentations GAP seeks to give an overview of all current, Africa-related projects and doctoral research at the Ghent University Association. Researchers who would like to submit a poster should also send in an abstract of this poster (before 1 August 2012). The posters (A0 format) should be delivered to the GAP secretariat (Dominique Godfroid, Ghent University – ICRH – K4 – 6th Floor – De Pintelaan 185 – 9000 Gent), by Monday, 26 November 2012. The 2013 autumn edition of GPA’s international and double-blind peer-reviewed journal Afrika Focus will largely be devoted to the theme of GAPSYM6. Regular speakers as well as guest speakers are invited to submit their papers for publication in this special issue of Afrika Focus. The deadline for submitting the manuscript is 1 February 2013. If, after peer-review, the paper is accepted, it will be published by December 2013.

More information:


How to make epidemiological training infectious?

Modern infectious disease epidemiology builds on two independently developed fields: classical epidemiology and dynamical epidemiology.

Over the past decade, integration of the two fields has increased in research practice, but training options within the fields remain distinct with few opportunities for integration in the classroom. The annual Clinic on the Meaningful Modelling of Epidemiological Data (MMED) at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences has begun to address this gap. MMED offers participants exposure to a broad range of concepts and techniques from both epidemiological traditions. During MMED 2010, a pedagogical approach was developed that bridges the traditional distinction between classical and dynamical epidemiology and can be used at multiple educational levels, from high school to graduate level courses. The approach is hands-on, consisting of a real-time simulation of a stochastic outbreak in course participants, including realistic data reporting, followed by a variety of mathematical and statistical analyses, stemming from both epidemiological traditions. During the exercise, dynamical epidemiologists developed empirical skills such as study design and learned concepts of bias while classical epidemiologists were trained in systems thinking and began to understand epidemics as dynamic nonlinear processes. The authors believe this type of integrated educational tool will prove extremely valuable in the training of future infectious disease epidemiologists. They also believe that such interdisciplinary training will be critical for local capacity building in analytical epidemiology as Africa continues to produce new cohorts of well-trained mathematicians, statisticians, and scientists. And because the lessons draw on skills and concepts from many fields in biology—from pathogen biology, evolutionary dynamics of host– pathogen interactions, and the ecology of infectious disease to bioinformatics, computational biology, and statistics—this exercise can be incorporated into a broad array of life sciences courses.

How to make epidemiological training infectious. Bellan SE, Pulliam JR, Scott JC, Dushoff J; MMED Organizing Committee.  PLoS Biol. 2012 Apr;10(4):e1001295. Epub 2012 Apr 3.