Participants of the Labo2S and RESAOLAB projects meet in Niger for a workshop dedicated to HIV viral load
On April 26 and 27, the Health Laboratories Directorate, in collaboration with the Mérieux Foundation and Solthis, organized a workshop in Niamey, Niger, to consolidate the capacities of the National Reference Laboratory (LNR) for HIV and to reflect on the national strategy for access to HIV viral loads.
The main objective of this discussion workshop for participants and partners of the Labo2S and RESAOLAB projects was to strengthen the country’s capacities to develop a strategy for optimizing access to HIV viral loads in Niger. Thirty-nine participants attended the first day, including HIV focal points and laboratory managers from the Labo2S project sites, patient association representatives and project partners. The second day was dedicated to discussions on the national strategy for access to HIV viral loads, with representatives of the National HIV and Hepatitis Control Program (PNLSH), and the management of the Global Fund unit. Dr. Eric Nerrienet, expert virologist at the Mérieux Foundation, helped lead the workshop.
Participants were invited, in particular, to reflect on good virological practice in RNA/DNA viral load for the diagnosis, biological monitoring and management of people living with HIV (PLHIV). As well as taking stock of HIV viral load activities at the National Reference Laboratory in 2022, the workshop enabled health project stakeholders to share difficulties encountered and consider different approaches to solutions.
Finally, participants were able to discuss the optimization of viral load platforms throughout the country, and, in particular, a national HIV viral load access expansion strategy. The workshop was concluded with recommendations given to the participants and partners.
The workshop was organized by the Health Laboratories Directorate, in partnership with the Mérieux Foundation and Solthis, in parallel with the Labo2S and RESAOLAB (West African Network of Medical Biology Laboratories) projects. As part of the Labo2S project, the Mérieux Foundation provides its expertise in order to improve the quality and integration of the HIV and tuberculosis offer within laboratories’ services, in particular at national reference laboratories for HIV (HIV LNR) and tuberculosis (TB LNR). Aware that solely strengthening the laboratories and the related service offer remains insufficient to ensure improved patient healthcare, the Labo2S project intends to act across the entire healthcare continuum, from promoting demand for access to diagnostic and follow-up tests to the submission and use of the results for patient management.
Led by Solthis and the Mérieux Foundation in partnership with the Health Laboratories Directorate, the Labo2S (laboratory for health) project contributes to improving access to quality treatments for people living with HIV and people affected by tuberculosis in Niger. Funded by the Expertise France initiative, Labo2S aims to enhance the quality and integration of HIV and tuberculosis services in laboratories as part of the continuum of care. The project’s initial phase (May 2020 – June 2021) was aimed at collecting baseline data, carrying out inventories, capacity audits and assessments of technical and governance capacities. The results of this phase made it possible to fine-tune the actions for phase II, currently underway until June 2023.
A system of medical laboratories offering quality services is essential to strengthening public health. RESAOLAB – West African Network of Medical Biology Laboratories – is the first regional program providing a solution to this public health issue. Designed alongside healthcare stakeholders in West Africa, it takes into account all factors affecting laboratory governance and performance. Its goal is to strengthen the medical biology services provided in seven West African nations by developing their laboratory systems thanks to a local and cross-functional approach.
The project was launched by the Mérieux Foundation in 2009, in collaboration with health ministers from Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal. Four new countries were added to the network in 2013: Benin, Guinea, Niger and Togo. RESAOLAB is funded by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD).