To prevent or respond appropriately to new epidemic phenomena and other public health emergencies, the World Bank supports the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement (REDISSE) program in West Africa. The program aims to reinforce regional and national surveillance and response systems. Officially launched in 2016, it groups together a set of multisectoral projects that initially targeted the countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Mauritania. The fourth funding round began in 2020, extending into Central Africa.
In Central Africa, the program has a regional dimension – grouping together Angola, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, and Chad under the management of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) – and a national dimension in each country.
The regional dimension of the program in Central Africa aims to strengthen laboratory networks with an integrated approach to health (human, animal and environmental).
Developing laboratory systems is a means of expanding the role of laboratories beyond their primary role of establishing diagnoses in order to treat patients. For example, laboratories can take on various functions such as detecting and responding to epidemics, collecting and reporting data, and the cross-border surveillance of diseases and antimicrobial resistance as part of a One Health approach.
Thanks to its experience, the Mérieux Foundation was commissioned by the regional program coordinated by ECCAS to contribute its expertise in strengthening laboratory-based surveillance.
The Mérieux Foundation provides technical assistance based on its expertise in strengthening laboratory systems to:
- Support the reinforcement of regional institutions and contribute to defining and implementing national strategies for medical biology;
- Improve technical capacity in terms of the quality of biological diagnosis.
The Mérieux Foundation’s work to complete the project in the three countries is based on four key activities:
- Developing the structure of laboratory networks (for human, animal and environmental health) by mapping the active players in the laboratory system, assessing national laboratory networks and supporting the design of priority action plans
- Helping to harmonize quality standards for laboratories by defining normative frameworks and supporting work to identify the entities responsible for applying and enforcing quality standards
- Enhancing data management with a regional approach to data management tools and systems
- Supporting improvements in laboratory quality and the skills of laboratory staff in the five countries of the REDISSE program with a regional program of External Quality Assessment and continuing training through an approach based on training national trainers
- World Bank via the Economic Community of Central African States
- Ministries of Health in the countries concerned