USF World News


Faculty Spotlight: Gabriel Picone, Economics Professor
February 9, 2012

Malaria is one of the major causes of child mortality worldwide, especially in Africa. According to Economics Professor Gabriel Picone, “The tragedy is that technologies exist and are available that can prevent, diagnose, and even cure malaria.” With the ultimate goal of encouraging malaria preventing behaviors, Professor Gabriel Picone has taken on multiple projects related to malaria prevention in Ghana. In partnership with Professor Kofi Awusabo-Asare from the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, Dr. Picone has conducted collaborative research in this critical area of inquiry.

In 2010, Picone and Awusabo-Asare received a USF Global Academic Partners (GAP) Program seed grant that funded a study of the economic costs and benefits of malaria prevention in Ghana. This preliminary research would, in turn, provide Picone and his international colleagues at the University of Cape Coast with the foundation for funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Picone is also working with his Ghanaian colleagues to develop a Master’s Degree in Health Economics and to create a Health Economics Research Unit at the University of Cape Coast which will assist the University in competing for research funding.

Supported by the Fogarty International Center, (NIH), Picone is currently leading a project with colleagues at the University of Cape Coast that evaluates the importance of social interactions and the adoption of malaria prevention technologies. Studies have shown that insecticide treated mosquito nets (ITN) are the most cost efficient intervention to prevent and control malaria. International community efforts have provided most children in Africa with access to an ITN. As Picone points out, however, “many of them do not sleep under the ITN consistently and the adoption of this technology varies widely across regions.” The results of his study will allow communities to measure the size of any “social multiplier” created by peer pressures or any other social interaction that may facilitate the use of malaria prevention technologies. Picone is also managing a three year project that will provide insight into the relationship between the prevalence of malaria and malaria preventive intervention, both on the individual and public levels.