A clinical biology system that provides high-quality services is essential to improve public health, yet diagnostics is the field that has received the least multilateral aid and government funding in recent decades.
The West African Network of Biomedical Analysis Laboratories (RESAOLAB) is the first regional program in West Africa to respond to this public health challenge.
Designed in collaboration with West African health professionals and the health ministries of member countries, it addresses all factors affecting how the governance and performance of laboratories are run and how they perform. RESAOLAB is part of the regional health policy established by the West African Health Organization (WAHO).
RESAOLAB aims to improve the quality of biomedical services in seven West African countries, by strengthening their laboratory systems through a regional approach.
The program is run in close partnership with the ministries of health of the seven member countries and focuses on six key areas:
- Improve laboratory services by setting up a standardized quality system;
- Strengthen initial training and continuing education for laboratory staff;
- Establish a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) in the network’s main laboratories;
- Improve national systems for laboratory purchasing, maintenance and management, taking a regional approach;
- Help increase funding for laboratory systems;
- Improve regional and national governance of laboratory systems.
Operational units within each ministry are responsible for implementing the program’s initiatives. An International Steering Committee pilots the project and meets once a year in one of the member countries. In parallel to this meeting, workshops are organized for all participants so they can suggest initiatives related to biomedicine and decide how to implement them.
Since it was created in 2009, RESAOLAB has paved the way for important programs on continuous training, the construction and equipment of training and quality control laboratories, epidemiological surveillance tools, and an inter-country network.
public and private laboratories supervised and brought into the network in the seven member countries
laboratory technicians trained during 100 training sessions
training modules as part of a skills development program
continuous training centers built
laboratory directorates built and equipped
scholarships for a bachelor’s degree in biological and applied medical sciences (BAMS Mali)
scholarships for a degree (diplôme d’études spécialisées) in medical biology
external quality assessment sessions
laboratories with an external quality assessment program
Four laboratory directorates have been built and fully equipped, and three are currently under construction. They contribute to the implementation of national policies for laboratory supervision and coordinate clinical biology laboratory activities, assess the quality of analyses and provide guidance on staff training courses when necessary.
RESAOLAB also supported the implementation of LabBook, a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), in all 7 countries and trained more than 60 people in its use. Developed by the Mérieux Foundation, it aims to improve epidemiological surveillance by collecting and transmitting laboratory data to national agencies on a regular basis.
Furthermore, in May 2016, the RESAOLAB association was created in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso). As it develops, this independent association of laboratory professionals will ultimately become a forum for discussion and recommendations, working closely with WAHO.
Diagnostic quality assessment
Thanks to laboratory supervision, assessments of laboratory infrastructure, equipment and training can be undertaken. This, in turn, facilitates the mapping of all the laboratories in each country and allows the laboratories to be supported in implementing a quality process.
External quality assessment makes it possible to compare a laboratory’s analysis results with an external reference in order to objectively evaluate the quality of analyses. More than 200 laboratories have taken part in an external quality assessment program.
Besides, in 2017, the external quality assessment program set up with the OneWorld Accuracy specialized consultancy continued. In 2016 and 2017 respectively, ten laboratories were selected by the laboratory directorates to receive and analyze samples. The results are then analyzed and returned to each country to provide the laboratories with an external interpretation of their results and allow for corrective actions to improve the quality of analyses.
Overall, the project provided more than 130 training scolarships between 2013 and 2017 and organized 217 continuous training sessions. Training tools have also been developed, with 13 e-learning modules developed since 2013.
In addition, a biomedical maintenance training has been set up within RESAOLAB, as part of a partnership between the École Polytechnique Abomey-Calavi in Benin and the Mérieux Foundation. The first training session, held in Benin in November 2016, trained 20 people. It was followed by a second session, also held in Benin, in September 2017, and financed by the European Union through its P48 project. RESAOLAB financed 9 scholarships for candidates from the countries of the network.
- West African Health Organization (WAHO)
- Health Ministries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo