The Mérieux Foundation has been working in Bangladesh since 2009. In 2015, it built a Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory (LRM) in Chittagong (with BSL-1, BSL-2 and BSL-3 laboratory capabilities) within the Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases. The LRM conducts both routine clinical testing and specialized analyses.
The LRM also conducts research on infectious diseases of local importance. As members of the GABRIEL network, the LRM, icddr,b, and Institute for Developing Science and Health Initiatives (ideSHi) conduct local and multi-centric research on tuberculosis and typhoid. Their current tuberculosis research initiatives include a study on TB transmission in Bangladeshi prisons, a project to improve TB diagnosis with QuantiFERON and HBHA tests, and a project to validate biomarkers that provide an early indication of effective TB treatment. With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, they are also working to create and validate a new typhoid screening test that uses blood samples. Finally, in response to the recent epidemic in Brazil, the Bangladeshi GABRIEL members are researching the antibody response to Zika and its role in the development of Guillain-Barré syndrome.
In 2013, the Benin Ministry of Health joined the Mérieux Foundation’s West African Network of Biomedical Analysis Laboratories (RESAOLAB). Through RESAOLAB, the Mérieux Foundation holds training sessions for laboratory technicians, has created a biomedical maintenance training program along with the École Polytechnique Abomey-Calavi (EPAC), renovated EPAC’s practical workrooms, and conducted an external quality assessment program involving 31 laboratories in Benin. Currently the External Quality Control Laboratory, and future National Laboratories Directorate, is under construction.
From 1974 to 1975, the Mérieux Foundation worked with Institut Mérieux to fight Brazil’s meningitis A epidemic by vaccinating the entire population (103 million people) in what was then the biggest public health intervention ever organized.
In 2016, the Mérieux Foundation built the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory (LRM) at Fundação Hospital Estadual do Acre (Fundhacre) in Rio Branco, the first BSL-3 laboratory in the Amazon region, which conducts research on tuberculosis and viral hepatitis.
Brazil’s Oswaldo Cruz Foundation and National Laboratory for Scientific Computing are active members of the Mérieux Foundation’s GABRIEL network. They, along with the LRM in Rio Branco, participate in multi-centric studies across the network, such as evaluating new pneumonia diagnostics developed by the Mérieux Foundation’s Emerging Pathogens Laboratory, and studying active surveillance of severe influenza in hospitalized patients in northeastern and southern Brazil.
The Mérieux Foundation began working in Burkina Faso in 2009, as it became one of the three founding countries of the West African Network of Biomedical Analysis Laboratories (RESAOLAB), which provides laboratory training, supervision, quality assurance, and external quality assessment of public health laboratories throughout the country and elsewhere in West Africa. Currently, 121 Burkinabe medical analysis laboratories are under supervision by RESAOLAB.
As part of the RESAOLAB, the Mérieux Foundation has helped to increase Burkina Faso’s diagnostic and public health surveillance capacity by creating the Continuing Training Center and External Quality Control Unit in Ouagadougou, within the General Directorate of Pharmacy, Drugs and Laboratories. The Mérieux Foundation has also renovated and equipped three continuing training centers around the country, as well as the laboratory and practical workrooms of the School of Pharmacy of Ouagadougou.
Additionally, the Mérieux Foundation works in Burkina Faso to support the World Bank’s West African Regional Disease Surveillance (WARDS) program that enhances epidemiological surveillance in West Africa by establishing peripheral surveillance centers. As one of the G5 Sahel countries, Burkina Faso is involved in a project supported by the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation to create a biosecurity network for the diagnosis of highly pathogenic agents, and sent experts to be trained on the mobile laboratory at the Charles Mérieux Center for Infectious Disease in Bamako.
The Mérieux Foundation began working in Cambodia in 2001 and constructed the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory (LRM) in the University of Health Sciences in Phnom Penh in 2005. Renovated in 2016, Cambodia’s LRM is a member of the GABRIEL network and focuses its research on respiratory infections (such as pneumonia and influenza), hepatitis (including HIV co-infections), and environmental pathogens.
To ensure access to high quality diagnoses, the Mérieux Foundation supports CAM-LAB, which provides workshops, training, policy advice, and a national external quality assessment program to a network of Cambodian laboratories. In 2017, 44 laboratories participated in the quality assessment. Also with the support of the Mérieux Foundation, the microbiology laboratory of the Battambang province has been designated a Regional Reference Center and is being expanded.
The Mérieux Foundation has worked with partners in China since 2006. In 2008, the Christophe Mérieux Laboratory (CML) was inducted into the Institute of Pathogen Biology at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS) in Beijing. As a member of the GABRIEL network, the CML focuses on pneumonia and tuberculosis research, and takes part in the China Against Drug Resistance (CARE) project to support rational use of antibiotics and control of hospital-acquired infections.
Since 2009, the Mérieux Foundation has partnered with the Chinese Ministry of Health and the National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory at the Chinese Center for Disease Control to improve local capacity and decentralize the diagnosis of tuberculosis and detection of drug resistance.
In 2014, the Mérieux Foundation became the third international foundation to be officially recognized by the Chinese Ministry of Health.
The Mérieux Foundation’s first mission to Guinea was in 2010, and Guinea joined the West African Network of Biomedical Analysis Laboratories (RESAOLAB) in 2013. During the Ebola epidemic of 2014 and 2015, the Mérieux Foundation provided medical supplies, transport vehicles, and on-the-ground medical teams to fight the epidemic.
In the wake of the Ebola epidemic, the Mérieux Foundation – alongside the Guinean Ministry of Health, Expretise France, and Institut Pasteur, with funding from France’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Development – has taken part in the LAB-NET project to improve monitoring of hemorrhagic fever by strengthening laboratory capacities. Since the project began in 2015, more than 105 Guinean laboratories have been evaluated, over 300 people have been trained in biosecurity and sample referencing, and a laboratory capacity map is in development.
In 2016, the Mérieux Foundation also launched LABOGUI to assist the Guinean Ministry of Health to implement a national clinical biology policy by improving institutional framework, laboratory management, and clinical biology conditions and practices.
The Mérieux Foundation began working in Haiti in 2002. In 2009, the Mérieux Foundation constructed the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory (LRM) at the Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infection (GHESKIO) Centers in Port-au-Prince. As the only BSL-3 laboratory in the country, the LRM performs both clinical diagnostics—for HIV viral load quantification, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, cholera, and Zika virus—and research in partnership with other GABRIEL members—on tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, microbiology and bacterial resistance. It also acts as Haiti’s reference laboratory for sexually transmitted and diarrheal diseases.
The Mérieux Foundation also supports public health in Haiti through projects such as SPHaïtiLAB, which supports the National Public Health Laboratory in creating national laboratory policy; a quality assurance program to achieve ISO 15189; and Haiti’s Bachelor in Applied Medical Biology (BAMS) degree program for public health laboratory technicians.
The Mérieux Foundation has been actively strengthening laboratory capacity in Laos since 2005, and in that time it has renovated nine clinical biology laboratories, supervised the construction of the national Food Safety Laboratory, and constructed the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory (LRM) at the Ministry of Health in Vientiane.
In conjunction with the Mérieux Foundation’s GABRIEL network, the LRM conducts research on HIV/AIDS, chronic viral hepatitis, tuberculosis, viral respiratory infections, and human papillomavirus. It is also part of the Mérieux Foundation quality assurance initiative, which works to help laboratories achieve international ISO 15189 accreditation. Housed in the LRM, and in partnership with the national HIV and TB programs, the Center for Infectiology Lao Christophe Mérieux has been recognized as a benchmark laboratory for monitoring patients with HIV and chronic viral hepatitis.
Through its Lab Kham project, the Mérieux Foundation is forming a network of laboratories in the Khammuane province, and strengthening their capabilities through continuing education and training of both laboratory staff and physicians.
The Mérieux Foundation has been working in Lebanon since 2008. In 2011, it constructed the state-of-the-art Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory (LRM) at Saint Joseph University in Beirut. The LRM focuses its research on pneumonia, and participates in the Pneumonias’ Etiology Among Refugees and Lebanese population (PEARL) research study to evaluate the proportion and distribution of viral and bacterial community-acquired pneumonia in refugee and Lebanese populations. This study will provide an evidence base to evaluate epidemiological risks, design public health interventions, and develop effective treatments during a humanitarian crisis.
In 2017, the first Middle East and North Africa regional conference on public health and infectious diseases was held in Beirut by the Mérieux Foundation in association with the Lebanese Society for Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology, The Lancet Infectious Diseases medical journal, the Middle Eastern Office of the Francophone University Association and the ESA Business School.
In response to the current refugee crisis stemming from the Syrian civil war, the Mérieux Foundation is helping to build a medico-social center in the Bekaa region in northeast Lebanon to provide medical care, health education, and assistance for both Syrian refugees and Lebanese families in need.
The Mérieux Foundation started working in Madagascar in 2006, when it began the ongoing RESAMAD project to create a national hospital laboratory network and provide technical support for diagnosis and surveillance of infectious diseases in 15 public and private hospitals. Since then, the Mérieux Foundation has renovated nine clinical biology laboratories, and has set up bacteriology units at multiple hospitals across the country.
In 2010, the Mérieux Foundation built a Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory (LRM) at the Charles Mérieux Center for Infectious Disease at the University of Antananarivo, which partners with the GABRIEL network and researches leprosy, chromomycosis and sporotrichosis, multidrug-resistant bacteria, bacterial meningitis, and human papillomavirus (HPV). This laboratory has participated in the Mérieux Foundation’s self-evaluation and training program to equip itself for ISO 15189 international accreditation.
The Charles Mérieux Center for Infectious Disease was recognized in 2016 as the national reference laboratory for leprosy, which remains a major public health concern in Madagascar. It also monitors intestinal schistosomiasis, bacterial meningitis, and HIV viral load testing, along with other GABRIEL member laboratories.
In 2005, the Mérieux Foundation constructed the Charles Mérieux Center for Infectious Disease with a Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory (LRM) in Bamako. As a member of the GABRIEL network, the LRM in Bamako focuses its research on tuberculosis, hepatitis B, respiratory infections and febrile diseases. It also receives support from the Mérieux Foundation to improve its laboratory to meet ISO 15189 international quality standards. In 2017, the Center opened a BSL-3 laboratory dedicated to diagnostics and research on drug-resistant tuberculosis.
In response to the Ebola epidemicer in West Africa in 2014-2015, the Mérieux Foundation USA facilitated the transfer of vehicles specifically outfitted to transport patients, samples, and the deceased while lowering the risk of transmission in the region. Additionally, the Charles Mérieux Center for Infectious Disease deployed a mobile laboratory to detect Ebola and other dangerous pathogens in remote regions of Mali. The mobile laboratory has been given to the Malian Ministry of Health, and the Mérieux Foundation continues to train health workers on its proper use through the G5 Sahel Biosecurity Network.
In 2009, Mali was one of three founding countries of the Mérieux Foundation’s the West African Network of Biomedical Analysis Laboratories (RESAOLAB). RESAOLAB strengthens public health capacity in West African countries by improving laboratory services through training and continuing education, epidemiological surveillance tools, policy implementation, standardization, quality assurance, governance, funding models and international coordination.
Beginning in 2011, the Mérieux Foundation’s LABOMEDCAMP project has improved medical care and diagnostics for people living in rural Mali by establishing medical analysis laboratories in community health centers and linking them in a national laboratory network. So far, ten laboratories have been created and eight more are underway.
The Mérieux Foundation continues to work in Mali on a number of regional and international projects. As part of the Global Health Security Agenda’s DJOMI project, the Mérieux Foundation has trained laboratory professionals on biosecurity, biosafety, sample collection and transport, and antimicrobial resistance; and has assessed Malian clinical biology laboratories. For ten years, the Mérieux Foundation (in partnership with the School of Biology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology (ESTBB) of the Catholic University of Lyon) offered a Bachelor of Science in Biological and Applied Medical Science (BAMS) in Mali, a tuition-free degree program for the continuing education of more than 200 West African laboratory technicians. In 2018, BAMS became a Master’s degree program at the University of Bamako.
The Mérieux Foundation began working in Myanmar in 2011, specifically to expand the network of laboratories capable of measuring HIV viral load. In the process, the Mérieux Foundation has renovated three public health laboratory units, supported microbiology tested at Public Health Laboratory in Mandalay, and begun supporting the construction of the new National Public Health Laboratory of Yangon.
Training, upgrading of equipment and operational support is provided to the Mandalay Public Health Laboratory and to the Yangon National Health Laboratory. In 2016, over 20,000 viral load tests were carried out by the two centers. The Mérieux Foundations aims to support Myanmar’s viral load testing capabilities so that it can meet the UNAIDS treatment target of 90% of people receiving antiretroviral therapy achieving viral suppression by 2020.
The Mérieux Foundation began working in Niger in 2012, and the country joined the West African Network of Biomedical Analysis Laboratories (RESAOLAB) the following year. In addition to assessing laboratory capacity, filling gaps in laboratory training and equipment, and assuring laboratory quality in Niger, the Mérieux Foundation has constructed the Health Laboratories Directorate and the External Quality Assessment Unit in Niamey, and a training center at the Zinder Mother-Child Health Center.
As one of the G5 Sahel countries, Niger is also part of the project supported by the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation to create a biosecurity network for the diagnosis of highly pathogenic agents through the deployment of mobile health laboratories and the creation of a rapid intervention team trained on its use.
The Mérieux Foundation began working in Senegal in 2009, when the Senegalese Ministry of Health became a co-founder of the West African Network for Biomedical Analysis Laboratories (RESAOLAB). Senegal works with the Mérieux Foundation and six other countries in the region to improve laboratory capacity through training, laboratory supervision, and external quality assessments.
Since 2015, the Mérieux Foundation USA’s I-Lab project has helped to integrate an open-source mobile reporting tool that automates laboratory data into all of the national- and regional-level laboratories across Senegal. The automation of this data improves the Ministry of Health’s ability to detect outbreaks and monitor antimicrobial resistance.
The Mérieux Foundation also links Senegal with various regional and international projects. Through its SOCIALAB study, the Mérieux Foundation researches the social, cultural, historical, and political factors that limit access to laboratory services and the resultant impacts on prenatal care in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Senegal.
As an implementer of the Global Health Security Agenda, and in partnership with PATH, the Mérieux Foundation is helping to create a strategic plan for the laboratories of Senegal, and to build capacity for biosecurity, biosafety, and countering antimicrobial resistance.
The Mérieux Foundation has worked in Togo since 2012, and the following year, Togo joined the West African Network of Biomedical Analysis Laboratories (RESAOLAB). Since that time, the Mérieux Foundation has constructed the new Directorate of Pharmacy, Drugs and Laboratories, under the Togolese Health and Social Protection Ministry, and renovated the practical workrooms of the Advanced School of Biological and Food Technology and the Faculty of Health Sciences.
Togo joins the six other RESAOLAB countries in conducting laboratory assessments, laboratory technician training workshops, laboratory supervision, and quality assurance activities. In addition to helping increase laboratory capacity, the Mérieux Foundation also facilitates research on respiratory infections in Togo.
In 2015, with funding provided by the Agence de Médecine Préventive, Togo began the second phase of the PneumoTone study on etiological agents that cause pneumonia. The study analyzes the impact of several vaccination campaigns on respiratory infections in the Togolese city of Dapaong.
The Mérieux Foundation has been closely involved in training efforts in Togo, and has funded the continuing education students pursuing their BAMS (Bachelor in Applied Medical Biology) in Bamako, their DES in Medical Biology in Dakar, and several other scientists studying biological engineering.