Access to diagnosis
The Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory in Chittagong provides the local population with quality diagnostic testing (routine tests and specialist exams) and trains students in clinical biology and infectious diseases, strengthening local capacities.
We actively contribute to the development of the Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases (BITID), which houses the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory:
- Strengthening the laboratory (purchase of a platform for the production of electrophoresis gel and strengthening the microbiology platform),
- Building capacity for microbiology diagnostics to fight against antimicrobial resistance (with funding from the Global Health Security Agenda),
- Workshops and training on Quality Control and biosafety.
The Foundation also supports the hospital laboratory in Shyamnagar in partnership with the NGO Friendship, which works in the poorest communities in Bangladesh.
Enhancing research capabilities
The Mérieux Foundation fosters research in Bangladesh by supporting the implementation of new projects at the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory in Chittagong. As a member of the GABRIEL network, the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory participates in several studies with laboratories in other countries, and provides its staff with training courses developed by the Emerging Pathogens Laboratory in Lyon. The Mérieux Foundation also conducts research to improve the care of the Rohingya refugee populations in the camps not far from the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory.
In conjunction with Erasmus University MC in Rotterdam and the International Center for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Bangladesh (icddr,b),the Mérieux Foundation is coordinating a GABRIEL network study, ZIKAGEIS, to understand the role of the Zika virus in the development of Guillain-Barré neurological syndrome. The study was launched in Bangladesh in 2016 with the support of the Global Emerging Infectious Disease Surveillance (GEIS) program of the United States Defense Department, the US Naval Medical Research Unit (NAMRU / NMRC) and Fondation AnBer. The research is conducted on 500 patients who suffer from Guillain-Barré syndrome.
The Mérieux Foundation is conducting a study on the transmission of tuberculosis in prisons to improve early detection and control of the epidemic in Bangladeshi prisons.
Moreover, the HINTT project, a GABRIEL network multicenter study deployed in Bangladesh, aims to assess new diagnostic tools to predict the effectiveness of anti-tuberculosis treatment. Avoiding the administration of unsuitable and unnecessary treatment reduces drug resistance and improves the cure rate.
Bangladesh is one of the areas with the highest rates of typhoid fever in the world. It is here that the Mérieux Foundation conducted the first validation phase of a new test for detecting and identifying the bacteria responsible for typhoid (Salmonella Typhi and Salmonella Paratyphi A). With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Emerging Pathogen Laboratory developed the test and analyzed samples from the foundation’s partners in Bangladesh: the Child Health Research Foundation (CHRF), Department of Microbiology at Dhaka Shishu Hospital; the icddr,b Center for Vaccine Sciences and the ideSHI Center for biomedical technology.
The foundation’s work has also led to the discovery of new strains of Salmonella Typhi. These typhoid fever bacteria, which are highly resistant to antibiotics, could pose a new epidemic threat. The results were published in the scientific journal mBio. Its main author, Arif M. Tanmoy, from the Child Health Research Foundation in Bangladesh, conducted his research at the Emerging Pathogens Laboratory. The study was carried out as part of the COMPARE project, which aims to develop a global database for the rapid identification of pathogens using next-generation sequencing (funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 program under grant agreement 64347).
Respiratory infections in refugee populations
Living conditions in refugee camps are accelerating the spread of infectious diseases, especially the viruses responsible for respiratory infections, one of the leading causes of child mortality. The Mérieux Foundation and its partners, the Institute for Developing Science and Health initiatives (IdeSHi), BITID and iccdr,b, are conducting a study in Cox’s Bazar camps in the Ukhia region to understand risk factors, provide treatment recommendations, and measure the utility and medical impact of rapid diagnostic tests in health centers. The project is supported by the Bangladesh Ministry of Health.
Support for mothers and children
As a country with limited resources, which is densely populated and particularly vulnerable to climatic events, Bangladesh faces significant public health issues. The Mérieux Foundation supports several collaborative projects:
- Increasing diagnostic capacities on the hospital boats of the NGO Friendship, through equipment and training, in partnership with Biology without Borders, a long-standing partner,
- Supporting the emergency actions taken by the NGO Friendship in refugee camps near Cox’s Bazar and treating infectious diseases in the Balukhali and Gumdhum camps,
- Equipping the Friendship Maternity Clinic laboratory, located just outside the camps, which was built with funding from the French Embassy in Bangladesh,
- Building a mother-child health center on Moheshkhali Island, in partnership with the NGO AMD (Medical Aid for Development), Fonds Pour Eux and SARPV (Social Assistance and Rehabilitation for the Physically Vulnerable).