The key players in West African medical biology meet in Conakry for the ninth International Steering Committee meeting of the West African Network of Biomedical Analysis Laboratories (RESAOLAB)

The RESAOLAB project welcomed the network’s partners and members to Conakry for its ninth International Steering Committee meeting on February 12th through 13th, 2024. The meeting was an opportunity for the partners to review the project’s activities in 2023 and to agree on a road map for 2024.

Participants of the 9th International Steering Committee meeting of RESAOLAB
Participants of the 9th International Steering Committee meeting of RESAOLAB

Around 35 participants, including RESAOLAB’s key players and partners in Benin, Guinea, Senegal, and Togo, came together for the project’s 2023 annual review with members of the international steering committee and partners. With a year’s extension to the project being granted, the meeting provided an opportunity to review its activities in 2023 and those implemented more globally, through an analysis of the project’s activity indicators. The program for 2024 was presented for the committee’s approval.

This meeting provides an opportunity to encourage cooperation and synergy between all the project’s partners by sharing each country’s practices in order to harmonize operations across the network.

“In France, biological diagnostics account for 3% of the health budget but affect 30% of health spending. Diagnostics are vital both for patients and for public health to ensure that policies are successful. The Mérieux Foundation has been working in Guinea for 10 years.”

Dr. François-Xavier Babin, Director of International Operations at the Mérieux Foundation

The meeting was chaired by Dr. Pépé Bilivogui, representing Guinea’s ministry of health and public hygiene, and was attended by coordinators, project managers, and managers from the RESAOLAB member countries, as well as representatives of network partners, including: Dr. Melchior Athanase J.C. Aïssi, Director General of the WAHO, Dr. Jean Kipéla, the WHO’s representative in Guinea, Sarah Crochon from the AFD in Paris and Nicolas Lécrivain from the AFD in Guinea, together with Dr. François-Xavier Babin of the Mérieux Foundation.

“Without laboratories, the medical profession cannot work. Laboratories are vitally important for the WAHO in order to strengthen health systems. Thanks to RESAOLAB, working with the synergy of a network enables us to help the region’s countries to achieve universal health coverage.”

Dr. Melchior Athanase J.C. Aïssi, Director General of the WAHO

Holding the meeting in Conakry was also a chance to highlight support for Guinea’s laboratory network through the results of the LABOGUI project, supported by the Mérieux Foundation and the AFD. The presentation by Professor Mandiou, Guinea’s current Director of Laboratories, showed the network’s partners how regional laboratory capacity in Guinea has been strengthened through structural improvements (infrastructure and facilities), staff training and the introduction of a quality management system to decentralize medical diagnostics in the country.

A remote presentation by Céline Barnadas of the WHO covered the program to recognize national reference laboratories for diseases with epidemic potential and the tools for its application.


“The Mérieux Foundation has been working in Guinea for 10 years through RESAOLAB, supporting the fight against Ebola in 2014 and then mapping laboratories, which led to the strengthening of regional health laboratories with the LABOGUI project. All these efforts contributed to the creation of the National Laboratories Directorate in Guinea, which was key to the success of the reinforcement work initiated through solid governance of laboratories and medical biology. I would like to thank the French Development Agency and all the teams. The most recent initiative in Guinea involved training a Global Laboratory Leadership Program cohort alongside two other countries. The results of this initiative were presented at the African Society of Laboratory Medicine conference at the end of 2023.”

Dr. François-Xavier Babin, Director of International Operations at the Mérieux Foundation

“It’s a pleasure to take part in the RESAOLAB international steering committee meeting, held in Guinea for the first time since the launch of the project’s third phase. It’s a chance to bring the partners together for fruitful discussions. The AFD is pleased to have supported the project since 2009, and its goals align with WHO policy on strengthening laboratories. It was the first project to address laboratory governance and performance, with solutions tailored for the reality of the member countries. The AFD has continued its involvement because we are convinced that RESAOLAB’s approach is the right one, placing the partnership with the health ministries in the partner countries, and particularly laboratory directorates, at its core. This is what has made the program a success since it began with the creation of a network to share experience and expertise. Recent epidemics have been a reminder of the importance of biological diagnostics and epidemiological surveillance for patient care and health security. RESAOLAB is an intervention model that must be pursued and developed in the project countries. It will be vital for national authorities to adopt and implement the international steering committee’s decisions in order to sustain these efforts and the network itself.”

Nicolas Lécrivain, local director of AFD Guinea

“This workshop is particularly important in that it gives players in the health system an opportunity to reinforce their collaboration in the field of laboratories. Clinical laboratories play a crucial role in public health during epidemics, carrying out diagnostics, confirming cases and developing research, as proved by the recent Covid-19 epidemic. The latest WHO 2023–2032 strategy for diagnostics and laboratory systems in the African region emphasizes leadership commitment and policies for legislation and the regulatory framework, together with improved domestic resources to fund the national health strategy on a sustainable basis. Cooperation between countries and health systems is essential, and networking helps to develop responsiveness and coordinate reactions to health crises. The WHO is keen to help Guinea develop its laboratory network as part of the response to epidemics and the reinforcement of health systems to provide better protection for populations.”

Dr. Jean Kipéla, WHO representative in Guinea

“I am delighted to welcome the RESAOLAB steering committee to Guinea. The country’s epidemic context makes it essential to have a sustained, developed laboratory for a targeted, appropriate health response. Thanks to the projects conducted in Guinea with support from the Mérieux Foundation and projects implemented by other partners, there has been a real improvement in laboratory standards. There is still a long way to go, with help from the various sources of support for developing medical biology and the resilience of health systems. Partnerships must be scaled up for improvement initiatives on behalf of populations, taking human, animal, and environmental health into account through a One Health approach. The minister took part in the National Biology Days organized by the national laboratories directorate through RESAOLAB and understands the importance and scale of the effort. The international steering committee has the full support of the health ministry and is committed to making every effort to implement the decisions that will emerge.”

Dr. Pépé Bilivogui, chief of staff, representative of the health ministry


A system of medical biology laboratories providing high-quality services is an essential requirement for improving population health. RESAOLAB – the West African Network of Biomedical Analysis Laboratories – is the first regional program in West Africa to provide a response to this public health concern. Designed in 2009 with West African healthcare stakeholders from Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. It takes into consideration all the factors affecting the laboratories’ governance and performance. Its objective is to improve the quality of medical biology services in these seven West African countries, by reinforcing their laboratory systems with a multifaceted regional approach.

RESAOLAB is a pioneering network that aims to increase access to quality diagnostics for vulnerable people in seven West African countries. The project entered its third phase in 2019 as part of a partnership between Mérieux Foundation and Agence Française de Développement, to continue strengthening laboratory systems through the implementation of national medical biology policies.

The network has been heavily involved in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis from 2020 onwards. Thanks to an additional grant awarded by the AFD (Agence Française de Développement), RESAOLAB made it possible to develop response strategies for laboratories, by drawing on its expertise to support national efforts.

RESAOLAB in Guinea

Guinea is one of the country members of the West African Network of clinical laboratories (RESAOLAB) created by the Mérieux Foundation and the ministries of health of participating countries. As part of this network, Guinea participates annually in training, laboratory supervision, quality assurance and external quality assessment. The Center for Continuing Education of Laboratory Personnel and the National Directorate of Laboratories financed by the RESAOLAB project, were inaugurated in 2018, in the presence of Mr. Alain Mérieux and the President of the Republic of Guinea.

We also support the National School of Health in Kindia, via an equipment grant.