Three years ago, at the initiative of Doctor Christophe Mérieux, we decided to focus Fondation Mérieux's action back on the field, closer to the men, women and children who are victims of infectious diseases.
It was our aim to contribute to the fight against the threat of infection by increasing potential in clinical biology, our area of expertise.
Progressively, with support from Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux, we have been setting up a biology laboratory network in infectious disease areas.
These laboratories are a point of access to the healthcare service and their role is to improve infectious disease diagnostics and patient follow-up, train future healthcare professionals and help structure quality applied research in developing countries.
To guarantee the future of these cuttingedge units, we have striven to place them at the heart of a network of experts and partners, steered by Fondation Mérieux's applied research teams in Lyon and Beijing. This international scientific exchange and cooperation network, GABRIEL, is now coming into its own.
2009 was the year in which this applied research potential was structured and raised up a notch, giving real significance to our action in developing countries. We are now present in China, Cambodia, Laos, Mali, Haiti, Madagascar and, shortly, in Lebanon. We have new projects in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia.
While we are making some progress, the needs are still unfortunately high. The devastation currently experienced in Haiti serves to remind us how extremely fragile some countries are and how unequal men and women are in terms of even basic healthcare requirements. It brings us back to our role and our duties.
Haiti will be one of our priorities in 2010. With Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux, with support from Institut Mérieux and its companies, alongside the GHESKIO Centres, our historic partners, we are committed to a large-scale long-term programme. We owe it to the people of Haiti whose courage, energy and determination are a lesson for us all.