The International Steering Committee convened nearly 35 participants, including RESAOLAB’s main stakeholders and partners from Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. Dr. François-Xavier Babin, Director of Diagnostics and Health Systems at the Mérieux Foundation, Prof. Jean Sakandé, project coordinator at the Mérieux Foundation, representatives of WHO and WHO Afro, the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), the French Embassy, and Agence française de développement (AFD) attended the opening ceremony, which was chaired by Dr. Ranaou Abaché, Niger’s Secretary General of Public Health.
The meeting marked the official launch of the third phase of the project, which is supported by AFD, the Mérieux Foundation’s long-standing partner.
Dr. François-Xavier Babin spoke about RESAOLAB’s history and achievements since its launch in 2009, and presented the main activities that will be undertaken during this third phase. “At a time when the important role of the laboratory in health systems continues to be reaffirmed, three main areas will be highlighted during this third phase of the project: accountability through a strengthened monitoring and evaluation system; participation in the achievement of the Global Fund’s objectives concerning HIV and tuberculosis, and above all, the sustainability of the laboratory directorates,” he stated.
Prof. Jean Sakandé underscored these remarks, highlighting the fact that the activities that will be implemented build on the results achieved during the previous phases of the project.
Dr. Ranaou Abaché, together with Niger’s Director General of Public Health, Dr. Arba Nouhou, praised RESAOLAB as a framework for the exchange of best practices among clinical biology laboratories in the sub-region and cited the results achieved in Niger since the project began in 2013*, particularly the creation of the laboratory directorate.
The meeting also provided an opportunity for Dr. Sheick Oumar Coulibaly, representing WHO Afro, to present the Global Laboratory Leadership Programme for health professionals in the RESAOLAB network to use as a tool for strengthening competencies.
Discussions among the project stakeholders also focused on setting RESAOLAB’s priorities, taking into account major public health issues such as antimicrobial resistance and the network’s involvement in other West African initiatives.
The International Steering Committee was organized the day after Niger’s National Biology Day. The event was enhanced by the participation of RESAOLAB network members who shared the experience of other countries in the sub-region. This mobilization of stakeholders at the regional level is a major strength of the network.
RESAOLAB was initiated by the Mérieux Foundation in 2009 in collaboration with the Ministers of Health of Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal. Four new countries joined the network in 2013: Benin, Guinea, Niger and Togo. RESAOLAB is an innovative network that aims to increase access to quality diagnosis for vulnerable populations in seven West African countries.
Since its launch in 2009, RESAOLAB has enabled the deployment of major continuous training programs, the construction and equipment of training and quality assurance laboratories, the implementation of epidemiological surveillance tools and the creation of an inter-country network. RESAOLAB is funded by Agence française de développement (AFD). The first two phases of the project also received support from the International Cooperation of the Princely Government of Monaco, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation the Islamic Development Bank, and the Mérieux Foundation. The World Health Organization and the West African Health Organisation participate in the project.
RESAOLAB achievements in Niger since 2013:
- 20 laboratories in the External Quality Assessment (EEQ) pilot project with OneWorld Accuracy
- 15 graduates of BAMS (Bachelor of Applied Medical Sciences)
- 2 graduates of the Diploma of Specialist Studies (DES) in Medical Biology
- 23 trainers
- 27 training sessions organized for the different modules
- 5 technicians trained in equipment maintenance
- Renovation and equipment of the practical training rooms at the National School of Public Health in Niamey
- Construction of the Laboratory Directorate and the External Quality Assessment Unit in Niamey and the Continuing Training Center for Biology in Zinder