ILDS Advisor Spotlight: Valeska Padovese

2 September 2021

Our ILDS Advisor Spotlight series introduces you to the Special and External Advisors who support the ILDS and IFD by providing technical input or advice into a specific area of ILDS/IFD’s work or lead a particular project or activity. Dr Valeska Padovese became an ILDS External Advisor in 2020, she supports the work of the IFD Migrant Health Working Group.

Dr Padovese is an Italian medical doctor who graduated at the medical school of Trieste University in 1998 and obtained the post-degree diploma in dermatology and venereology in 2002. After the specialisation she collaborated with the National Institute for Health, Migration and Poverty (INMP) in Rome, a public institute which focusses on tropical medicine and migrants’ health; during this time, she was involved in national and international projects.

Dr Padovese volunteering on a Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) medical mission to Jordan.

In 2003 she started travelling to Africa and working in northern Ethiopia (2003-2007) where she opened the Italian Dermatological Hospital, which was the only hospital providing skin care to a population of over 4 million people. She was responsible of the hospital in- and out-patients’ department, in charge of training health professionals and clinical epidemiological survey in collaboration with the local Ministry of Health. She carried out an operational research in the rural communities of Tigray region aimed at early detection of HIV infection through skin signs and symptoms, aimed to determine prevalence and type of dermatological conditions/STIs related to HIV infection in the area.

In 2008 she started working in emergency projects in a public hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, where she trained the local health professionals on management of burn injuries and performed clinical epidemiological research on self-immolation.

From the end of 2008 till 2010 she was project coordinator of the emergency programme on migration in the small island of Lampedusa (Italy), welcoming and assessing thousands of migrants landing by boat in the island, to prevent communicable diseases entering the Country.

In 2010-11 she led a project in Malta aimed at improving health conditions of asylum seekers living in the reception centres of the island. In collaboration with the Maltese health authorities, she planned and performed a medical screening of all migrants hosted in the reception centres and a pilot study on STIs (hepatitis B and C, Syphilis) and tuberculosis prevalence.

In 2012-13 she was the coordinator of a project in Djibouti on sexual and reproductive health, and the practice of female genital mutilations (FGM).

Since 2015 Dr Padovese has been appointed as consultant at the Genito-Urinary (GU) Clinic at Mater Dei Hospital in Malta. She is leading the GU Clinic team, which serves the entire Maltese population and she oversees postgraduate trainees. She is lecturer at the Medical School, University of Malta, Course of Venereology and at the Master on International Humanitarian Action of the NOHA programme.

In 2017 Dr Padovese was part of the Maltese medical team for the implementation of the project “CARE – Common Approach for Refugees and other migrants’ health”, which has received funding from the European Union’s Health Programme (2014-2020), aimed to promote a better understanding of refugees and migrants’ health condition as well as to support the adaptation of the appropriate clinical attitude towards refugees and migrants’ health needs. In 2019 she took part of the European Project CAPTIVE -Cultural Agent Promoting & Targeting Interventions vs Violence & Enslavement – and she run a KAP (knowledge, attitude and practice) survey in a sample of international migrants attending the GU clinic between January and June 2019. The outcomes of the mix-method study were published in a peer reviewed journal.

Since 2017 Dr Padovese has collaborated with the WHO Human Reproduction Programme for the implementation of research projects on clinical base evaluation of Point of Care Test (POCT) for STIs screening in Malta, targeting key populations, particularly Men who have Sex with Men (MSM). She is currently WHO leading investigator for two research protocols.

In 2018 Dr Padovese volunteered in Jordan with SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society), where she carried on clinical and research work on skin conditions in Syrian refuges in Al Zaatari camp and in the towns at the border with Syria.

In December 2019 she took part to a voluntary mission in Bangladesh, in support of the Rohingya refugees, with a team of dermatologist from UK and US. Since 2015 she is IUSTI Europe board member and in 2020 she has been appointed external advisor of the International Foundation for Dermatology Migrants Health Dermatology Working Group.

Dr Padovese in the Cox’s Bazaar Camp in Bangladesh

In 2020 Dr Padovese received a research grant from EADV on a project proposal titled “Skin and sexually transmitted infections KAP (knowledge, attitude and practice) survey and health promotion strategy using mobile and digital technologies in migrant populations” to be carried on in Malta and Lebanon.

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