The consequences of inaccurate medical diagnosis are particularly severe in Africa, especially in the area of infectious diseases. In Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal, around 300 000 people are living with HIV, yet more than 80% are being ignored.
Tuberculosis affects around 100 000 people annually, with one third amongst them not having access to a proper diagnosis.
Malaria is the second biggest killer between all age groups in Senegal and the third in Burkina Faso and Mali.
In 2008, Fondation Mérieux and the health ministers of Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal, worked together on the development of a project to improve the efficacy of diagnostic laboratories in the three West African countries, thanks to financial support of the Agence Française de Développement.
Named RESAOLAB, this project was created with the help of 4 million Euros of financial support over a period of 3 years with the aim of developing and supporting a network of biomedical analyses laboratories with three essential functions reserved for a laboratory network: continuous training of personnel, quality management and epidemiologic surveillance. The programme also aims to structure of a sub-regional network of laboratories. As the follow up to the programme ACTION BIOMALI, set up by Fondation Mérieux in 2005 in Mali and which ended at the end of 2009, RESAOLAB has benefitted from the experience of its predecessor in order to continue its work.
The reinforcement of the laboratory network supports the set-up of other programmes to help in the fight against epidemic diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases and in doing this, will contribute to the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals.
The continuous training component operates around 9 training modules that are taught in 4 training centres per country (1 national centre and 3 regional centres). These modules will then be broken down as e-learning.
Module 1 : bio security and waste control
Module 2 : quality assurance
Module 3 : facility maintenance
Module 4 : antibiogram and resistance studies
Module 5 : pre-post analyses
Module 6 : microscopy
Module 7 : supervision of chronic illnesses
Module 8 : potentially epidemic diseases
Module 9 : computerised system of laboratory management
A laboratory quality plan will be validated by the 3 countries and means will be provided to the laboratories to develop supervision and external evaluation of laboratories quality.
Support for epidemiological surveillance will be developed with the establishment of common forms of data collection in the laboratory and the development of a Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS).
The expertise of each of the three countries will be brought together and a sub-regional network of laboratories established in order to begin the process of procedure harmonization.