May 12, 2015 | Donka (Guinea)
The center strengthens capacities for infectious disease prevention. Seven West African countries establish harmonized laboratory policies and a coordinated response to epidemics.
The foundation stone of the future building of the Laboratory Division is being laid today during a ceremony presided by Dr. Colonel Rémy Lamah, Minister of Health of Guinea, with guests including Benoît Miribel, General Director of Fondation Mérieux, Dr. Jean-Louis Machuron, RESAOLAB program coordinator, Didier Maze of the French Embassy, Yazid Bensaïd, Director of Agence Française de Développement in Guinea and Sierra Leone, and representatives from WHO and Institut Pasteur of Guinea. The leading figures in clinical biology from Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo are also present, meeting in Guinea May 11-13 as part of the West African network of biomedical analysis laboratories, RESAOLAB (Réseau d’Afrique de l’Ouest des Laboratoires d’Analyses Biologiques, or West African network of biomedical analysis laboratories).
The new 4,800-square-foot center dedicated to the Laboratory Division, will be located near the Institut de Perfectionnement Professionnel en Santé (IPPS) in Donka. It comprises a classroom, a multimedia room, two rooms for practical training and offices for the administration. The center will bring under one roof all of RESAOLAB’s key activities for strengthening laboratory systems and will serve as a base for its deployment throughout the country. Looking forward, the training modules provided at the center and external quality control will enable all laboratories in Guinea to benefit from the advances brought by the RESAOLAB program.
Guinea is the 5th country to have a center of this kind built through the RESAOLAB program, with Fondation Mérieux overseeing the construction. The program is made possible thanks to the support of Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Fondation Mérieux, International Cooperation of the Principality of Monaco, Islamic Development Bank, and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
Several RESAOLAB workshops are also being organized during the Guinea meeting. Strengthening the systems for laboratory maintenance and management and the creation of harmonized regional policies are important objectives for RESAOLAB. Senegal will share its experience of establishing a Laboratory Department. Madagascar, where the cost of biological testing is often an obstacle for patients, will describe its experience with a partially autonomous management of its regional laboratories and participants will discuss ways to make diagnostics more affordable. The issue of laboratory waste will also be covered.
The epidemic of Ebola virus disease has highlighted the need to strengthen healthcare systems in West African countries, especially capacities to perform diagnostics to accelerate the identification of pathogens and potential infection hotbeds. A round table held May 13th as part of the 6th Guinea/Rhône-Alpes Days will explore the role of a laboratory network in an epidemic, drawing lessons from the Ebola epidemic. RESAOLAB members were deeply engaged in the epidemic, with Guinea, Senegal and Mali directly hit.
Before RESAOLAB, no regional program covering West Africa has targeted capacity building for medical biology testing.
This inter-country West African laboratory network was launched in 2009 by Fondation Mérieux in collaboration with the ministers of health of Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal. Four new countries joined the network in 2013: Benin, Guinea, Niger and Togo. The program is made possible thanks to the support of Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Fondation Mérieux, International Cooperation of the Principality of Monaco, Islamic Development Bank, and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The World Health Organization, the West African Health Organisation (OOAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) collaborate on the program.
Improving the health of populations is dependent upon the quality of the clinical biology laboratory system and the services it provides. However, diagnostics is the area in healthcare that has received the least multilateral aid and investment by governments.
RESAOLAB is the first regional program to address this public health issue. Developed with West African healthcare experts, it takes into account all of the factors that affect the governance and performance of laboratories, focusing on 6 key areas:
- improving laboratory services through implementation of a standardized quality system,
- strengthening both initial and continuing training of laboratory staff,
- establishing an information management system in the network’s main laboratories,
- strengthening the national laboratory procurement,
- maintenance and management systems through a regional approach,
- obtaining additional funding for the laboratory systems,
- strengthening regional and national governance of the laboratory systems.
The first phase of RESAOLAB made it possible to run major continuing training programs, equip training and quality assurance laboratories, develop tools to support epidemiological surveillance programs and create a particularly active multi-country network.