November 19, 2018 | Bamako (Mali)
An article written by teams from the Charles Mérieux Center for Infectious Disease of Mali and the Mérieux Foundation has been published online October 9th in New Microbes and New Infections. “Installing BSL-3 containment laboratories in low- and middle-income countries: challenges and prospects from Mali’s experience” highlights the complex process and challenges faced in establishing and running a biosafety level 3 containment laboratory (BSL3) in low- and middle-income settings.
The article by Kouriba B, Missi Oukem-Boyer OO, Traoré B, Touré A, Raskine L, and Babin F-X describes how a BSL-3 laboratory in a shipping container was installed by the Mérieux Foundation at the Charles Mérieux Center for Infectious Disease of Mali (CICM). The laboratory was donated to the Malian Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene by Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux, and inaugurated in September 2015. The laboratory addressed a need for appropriate biosafety conditions to perform testing for the diagnosis of tuberculosis and multidrug-resistant TB, and antimicrobial susceptibility testing for anti-tuberculosis drugs.
The laboratory’s equipment was enhanced in 2017, as part of the DJOMI project, a Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) initiative funded by the U.S. CDC through Catholic Relief Services. In addition, the Global Fund provided equipment and consumables needed to produce liquid media cultures and perform first- and second-line antimicrobial susceptibility testing. Today, there is a staff of seven technicians and biologists in the lab processing tuberculosis samples at the national level.
The publication in New Microbes and New Infections stresses the importance for low- and middle-income countries to be able to establish BSL-3 laboratories and become autonomous in the fight against infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance. The authors demonstrate the feasibility of setting up BSL-3 laboratories but also call for a new approach to facilitate the process and address the main challenges they had to overcome. While the most important obstacle to the lab operating effectively is training and the availability of competent staff, the second major obstacle is the complexity of all the steps that are entailed in obtaining funding from multiple sources.