7 West African countries invent a new kind of cooperation in healthcare

October 22, 2013 - Cotonou (Bénin)


Fondation Mérieux announces the launch of the new RESAOLAB programme during a week of discussions held under the auspices of Dorothée Akoko Kindé Gazard, Minister of Health of Benin. Some sixty partners from close to a dozen countries are participating in the event.

This inter-country West African laboratory network was launched in 2009 by Fondation Mérieux in collaboration with the ministers of health of Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal. At the request of health ministries from neighbouring countries, a new phase of RESAOLAB will be launched 22 October, expanding the network to include four new countries: Benin, Guinea, Niger and Togo.

The programme is made possible thanks to the support of Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the Mérieux Foundation, who co-financed the first phase. For this second phase, they will be joined by the International Cooperation of Monaco, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Islamic Development Bank, which plan to contribute to funding the program. The total budget is estimated at 8 million euros. The World Health Organization, the West African Health Organisation (OOAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) collaborate on the programme.

Improving the health of populations is dependent upon the quality of the clinical biology laboratory system and the services it provides. However, diagnostics is the area in healthcare that has received the least multilateral aid and investment by governments.

RESAOLAB is the first regional programme to address this public health issue. It takes into account all of the factors that affect the governance and performance of laboratories and focuses on three essential activities:

  • basic education and continuing training of laboratory personnel,
  • quality management of the tests performed by laboratories,
  • epidemiological surveillance support.

The first phase of RESAOLAB made it possible to run major continuing training programs, equip training and quality assurance laboratories, develop tools to support epidemiological surveillance programmes and create a particularly active multi-country network. Today, over 300 public and private laboratories in the three initial countries belong to the network.

RESAOLAB is also an example of successful South-South cooperation, conceived through the collaboration of West African healthcare professionals and stakeholders. The plan for the programme’s second phase, elaborated this week in Cotonou, will feature on-site support and guidance for new countries by experienced teams from the first three countries.