“Without diagnostics, medicine is blind.”
Reliable and relevant biological diagnostics make it possible to identify pathogens, determine drug resistance and enable medical professionals to prescribe the right intervention for each patient.
In developing countries, it is often difficult to gain access to facilities with clinical analyses, high-quality diagnostic tools, trained personnel and effective research resources. The Mérieux Foundation creates and renovates clinical laboratories within regional hospitals and healthcare organizations in order to give local populations the access they need to these resources.
Improving access, improving care, improving outcomes
Since 2005, the Mérieux Foundation has built 13 laboratories, renovated 32, and trained laboratory staff in low-income countries, providing diagnostic capabilities to healthcare structures that were poorly equipped to respond to their communities’ needs or to infectious disease outbreaks.
On-the-ground and locally based laboratories mean research and care are focused on the specific needs of each community. In addition to providing local populations with access to high-quality diagnostics, the Mérieux Foundation provides training for local biologists and lab technicians to ensure that the local healthcare organizations are supported by a long-term strategy of sustainability.
The Mérieux Foundation continues to develop its international network of clinical laboratories to enable healthcare professionals in resource-limited settings to share and leverage their experience.
At the forefront of technological innovation
The Mérieux Foundation is working to enable clinical laboratories to harness new technologies to improve diagnostic capabilities for vulnerable populations. Such tools will allow for greater data sharing and collaboration among healthcare providers around the world.
The Mérieux Foundation USA’s I-Lab project, funded by the Skoll Global Threats Fund and in partnership with PATH, is equipping the 120 laboratories that make up Senegal’s national network with a tool to enable automated collection and reporting of epidemiological data. The system will make possible the enhanced surveillance of diseases with epidemic potential in real time and also accelerate response measures.
In Guinea, the LAB-NET project intends to establish a national surveillance system for viral hemorrhagic fever syndromes in the country. This system is based on the country’s medical biology laboratories and aims to enable the safe transport of biological samples to reference laboratories for a rapid and reliable diagnosis. The project is part of a broader effort to strengthen capacities after the Ebola crisis and includes other projects which strengthen the laboratory sector. LAB-NET is funded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, implemented in Guinea by the Mérieux Foundation and Institut Pasteur and overseen by Expertise France.
RESAOLAB, the West African Network of Biomedical Analysis Laboratories launched in 2009 by the Mérieux Foundation, has developed LabBook, a an open source data processing system for laboratories. The aim is to offer a free, robust and suitable solution for developing countries. With its automated reporting, LabBook improves the control of the activity of medical biology laboratories, and is highly configurable.