July 17, 2020 | West Africa
The West African Network of Biomedical Analysis Laboratories (RESAOLAB), of which the third phase was launched end 2019, has set up a special Covid-19 unit to reinforce the diagnostic capacities of its member countries and to prevent the spread of the virus, with the support of the Agence française de développement (AFD) and the Mérieux Foundation.
As of detection of the first positive coronavirus cases on the continent, the Mérieux Foundation set to work within the network to report the different requirements of laboratory management and networks in the 7 West African countries, and was able to provide support for diagnosis by sending Sars-Cov-2 screening kits to Burkina Faso and Senegal.
ITo step up this response and to take further action to enable the network to arm itself against the epidemic, the AFD granted an additional subsidy of 1.5 million Euros to RESAOLAB through the Initiative "COVID-19 - Health in Common". This funding is used to develop COVID-19 laboratory response strategies by mobilizing the expertise of the network to back national responses, through three means of action.
In order to be able to increase the number of screening tests in each of the 7 countries, the network laboratories will receive the necessary equipment for developing COVID-19 diagnosis (equipment, reagents and consumables), along with protective equipment for their staff, on the front line against the epidemic. The Mérieux Foundation brings its technical expertise, its knowledge of international recommendations for COVID-19 diagnosis and the experience of the other countries in which it intervenes, to support the laboratories’ strategies in the implementation of their national intervention plan.
The importance of networking and the synergy which results from sharing information and experiences between the countries are all the more critical in the context of a health emergency. In order to facilitate exchanges between the members of the network, a platform will be set up in order to provide documentation (response plans, training, WHO directives) in French, along with a forum led by experts from the Mérieux Foundation.
Finally, a study will be conducted later on, in order to measure and to highlight the laboratory’s key role, that of laboratory management and of the laboratory networks during a health crisis.