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West African Clinical Biology Experts Gather in Senegal

January 21, 2017 | Dakar (Senegal)

From January 18th to 20th, 2017, some seventy participants, including the leading figures in clinical biology of Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo gathered at the fourth International Steering Committee for RESAOLAB, the West African laboratory network of biomedical analysis laboratories, in Dakar in Senegal. There, they shared their results in fighting against epidemics and improving laboratory services across the West African region.

The 2017 annual meeting was held under the High Authority of Ms. Awa Marie Coll Seck, Senegalese Minister of Health, and included participants such as the Cabinet Director at the Senegalese Ministry of Health; Dr. Iyane Sow, the Director of Laboratories in Senegal; a representative of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) for Senegal; and Dr. François-Xavier Babin, the Mérieux Foundation’s Director of International Development.

An innovative public health network, RESAOLAB’s goal is to increase the access vulnerable populations have to high quality diagnostics in West Africa. The allowed network members to review 2016 results and to ensure optimal coordination and management of the network.

The event included joint workshops between RESAOLAB and the West African Regional Disease Surveillance (WARDS), in which participants presented the progress on topics such as collecting and transmitting epidemiological data to reinforce disease surveillance and accelerate outbreak response; training; sample collection and transport; and antimicrobial resistance.

As a member of RESAOLAB since 2009, Senegal has created a National Direction for Laboratories and has benefited from the renovation of continuous training centers in Kaolack, Kolda and Saint-Louis, as well as the construction of a new National Laboratory for Public Health in Thiès. Initial and continuous training of laboratory personnel has been reinforced, with thirty-three training sessions set up and twenty-two scholarships given for a degree in biology. In order to improve laboratory services, 118 laboratories were supervised as part of a national quality plan and fifteen laboratories are currently testing a new computerized system of data management.


This inter-country West African laboratory network was launched in 2009 by the Mérieux Foundation 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), Islamic Development Bank, International Cooperation of the Principality of Monaco, Stavros Niarchos Foundation and Mérieux Foundation. The World Health Organization and the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) 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.

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.

It focuses on six key objectives:

  • improve laboratory services by setting up a standardized quality system;
  • strengthen initial and continuing training for laboratory staff;
  • establish a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) in the network’s main laboratories;
  • reinforce national systems for purchasing, maintenance and management of laboratories;
  • contribute to increasing funding for laboratory systems;
  • improve regional and national governance of laboratory systems.


  • Over 700 public and private laboratories in the network and under supervision in seven countries
  • More than 800 lab technicians trained in over 100 training sessions
  • Forty-five laboratories equipped with a laboratory information management system (LIMS) to support epidemiological surveillance
  • A skills development program including fourteen training modules
  • More than twenty-five continuous training centers built or in design phase in seven countries
  • More than 200 laboratories with an external quality control program

Learn more about RESAOLAB (French Language)


The World Bank’s Africa Catalytic Growth Fund (ACGF) has provided funding of $10 million to support the deployment of the West African Regional Disease Surveillance (WARDS). The ECOWAS has contributed an additional $1.5 million for a total project budget of $11.5 million.

The project, which aims to improve disease surveillance and response in the fifteen ECOWAS member states, launched its activities in March 2014 with the recruitment of a team of coordinators and the signature of contracts with six partners (WHO, Centre for International Cooperation in Health and Development (CCISD), University of Oslo, University of Ghana, CDC Foundation and Mérieux Foundation). WARDS seeks to establish, equip and ensure the functioning of sixty epidemiological surveillance centers.

The Mérieux Foundation is coordinating the laboratory component and providing its expertise and technical support to improve the skills of laboratory professionals in all of the ECOWAS countries.

RESAOLAB contact
Mérieux Foundation
Jean-Louis Machuron

Tel: +33 6 11 45 03 59
E-mail: Send an e-mail

Senegal contact
Mérieux Foundation - West Africa office
Lorene Ladan Fofana

Tel: + 221 77 86 30 598
E-mail: Send an e-mail

WARDS contact
Mérieux Foundation
Josette El-Pellet Najjar

Tel: +33 6 60 38 73 20
E-mail: Send an e-mail

Media contact
Mérieux Foundation
Koren Wolman-Tardy

Tel: +33 6 13 94 51 14
E-mail: Send an e-mail

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