LabMyNet project activities in Myanmar build diagnostic capacity for HIV and SARS-CoV-2 viral load surveillance

Renovation of the Medical Action in Myanmar laboratory, establishment of a molecular platform for HIV viral load, and training of staff are all activities that have been successfully carried out in a very short time frame and despite health and political constraints in the country.

Within the framework of the LabMyNet project in Myanmar, which has been severely affected by health and political difficulties, the Mérieux Foundation, with the help of its partners, was able to renovate the Medical Action in Myanmar laboratory, ship and set up a new molecular platform dedicated to HIV viral load testing, and train the teams in this technique. In order to meet the short deadlines despite the local context, the coordination of the renovation, the training of technicians in the technique and software and the setting up of sampling circuits had to be carried out remotely, during weekly meetings.

After less than 4 months, this laboratory is now able to meet the demand for viral load of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the country. Its SARS-CoV-2 surveillance capacity has also been strengthened.

Thanks to the teams present on site and the involvement of all stakeholders, LabMyNet’s achievements with a strong impact on public health are continuing. Activities will start in January 2022 and, despite the complexity of the context, will ensure that PLHIV have access to the reference test for their follow-up. Members of the Mérieux Foundation in Myanmar will be present at the laboratory to ensure the start of the activities, alongside the Medical Action in Myanmar staff.

The Foundation plans to continue strengthening private non-profit sector laboratories, in conjunction with international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) to meet emergency demand.

This in-country HIV viral load (CV) scale-up project, launched in 2018, is implemented in partnership with The Union, Medical Action in Myanmar, Doctors without Borders Switzerland, the World Health Organization, and PSI and supported by L’Initiative of Expertise France, and the Global Fund. The Foundation’s support for programs to improve access to HIV viral load testing contributes to achieving the UNAIDS 95-95-95 goals by 2030, in particular the goal of having an undetectable viral load for 95% of people on antiretroviral treatment.