The Mérieux Foundation is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Diploma of Specialist Studies (D.E.S.) in Medical Biology, which is a doctorate-level postgraduate degree awarded by Cambodia’s University of Health Sciences, open to doctors and pharmacists. The three-year course combines theoretical classes, practical work, hospital placements and research at Cambodia’s Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory.
Since 2009, the Mérieux Foundation has worked with the Chinese Ministry of Health and the National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory at the Center for Disease Control to increase diagnostic capabilities in the Zhejiang and Heilongjiang provinces for patients whose tuberculosis treatment is not proving effective. The first phase of this partnership was completed in 2012 and demonstrated the importance of decentralizing resources to detect tuberculosis and resistance to treatment in China.
In 2012, the Foundation intensified its support for its long-standing partner, GHESKIO (Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infection), taking action to strengthen Haiti’s medical diagnostic capabilities, particularly through technical support to the microbiology laboratory. Today, 70 people work at the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory to diagnose multi-resistant tuberculosis, cholera and HIV.
The CoPanFlu research study on influenza A was launched following the emergence of the H1N1 flu virus in March 2009. The aim of the study was to quantify the incidence of flu infection and to identify the sociological and epidemiological factors determining the risk of infection. This research was coordinated by the Christophe Mérieux Infectiology Center of Laos, the French School of Public Health, and the Mérieux Foundation, and involved approximately 4,000 people in a district of Vientiane.
The Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory, which was inaugurated in 2011, responds to an urgent need in infectiology in Lebanon and in the region. The laboratory conducts research projects related to the GABRIEL network programs, and also performs research on projects of scientific interest to the region, such as the monitoring of pathogens and bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
In 2011, the Mérieux Foundation launched a study to identify host markers of diagnostic significance that could be used to differentiate between malaria and pneumonia in children under five with a fever over 100°F, in order to improve diagnostics and disease surveillance. The project is run in partnership with the Ampasimanjeva Medical Foundation, and is funded by the National Institutes of Health and Institut Mérieux.
Managed by the Charles Mérieux Infectiology Center in Bamako, the Bachelor of Science in Biological and Applied Medical Sciences (BAMS) has been offered since 2007, in cooperation with the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bamako and the School of Biology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology at the Catholic University of Lyon. In the fall of 2013, Mali’s seventh class of students began its training.
Following the 2012 renovation of the Mandalay Public Health Laboratory, a technology transfer and multiple-stage training course were implemented in preparation for the launch of viral monitoring at the lab. This test is now available for the 15,000 patients monitored by the Union Against Tuberculosis, with support from the Global Fund.
Effectively sharing information between national structures and regional laboratories is a major challenge for infectious disease surveillance. Since 2011, a “mobile health” experiment in Dakar has aimed to improve epidemiological surveillance and continuing training for laboratory professionals, through the use of voice technology via mobile phones.
Construction of the national reference laboratory for public health, located in Dushanbe, was completed in the fall of 2012, in partnership with the United Nations Development Program and the Tajik Ministry of Health. The new laboratory aims to bring about improvements in the diagnosis of tuberculosis, as well as other diseases of local and global importance such as hepatitis, hemorrhagic fevers and respiratory infections.