Lebanon

In a country that hosts more than one million refugees, we are working with local partners to support displaced persons. At the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory, we are conducting research on the respiratory infections affecting children in refugee camps and making specialized testing available to the local population.

Overview

  • First Fondation Mérieux mission in 2008
  • Mérieux Foundation office: 2 expatriates and 2 Lebanese employees
  • Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory in Beirut within the Technology Center of the Saint Joseph University* (2011)
  • Two members of the GABRIEL network: Saint Joseph University (Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory in Beirut) and Lebanese University (Microbiology, Health and Environment Laboratory, Tripoli)

The Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory’s research focus: pneumonia

Situation

Access to diagnosis

Specialized biology activities (HIV, hepatitis B and C viral loads, hepatitis C and tuberculosis strain typing) are carried out at the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory to combat infectious diseases and to fight epidemics affecting the most vulnerable populations.

Enhancing research capabilities

In 2016, the PEARL (Pneumonias’ Etiology Among Refugees and Lebanese population) study was launched to identify pathogens causing respiratory infections in refugee and Lebanese communities. We decided to launch this study in response to Doctors Without Borders’ reports of a significant rate of respiratory infections, primarily affecting children.

The PEARL study aims to provide urgently needed information to adapt treatment protocols, improving patient care. It will be the first to systematically establish the prevalence and causal contribution of pathogenic microorganisms in the respiratory tract during a humanitarian crisis. The project is co-funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Mérieux Foundation and brings together a consortium of partners from various regions of Lebanon, from academia (the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory at Saint Joseph University in Beirut and the Lebanese University of Tripoli), the humanitarian sector (the Al-Bashaer and Amel associations), private sector (Bioteck and BioFire Diagnostics), and biological expertise (Chtoura Hospital and the University of Lyon).

Knowledge-sharing

We organize international symposia and conferences in an effort to disseminate ideas and advances in the fight against infectious diseases.

The MENA regional conference on public health and infectious diseases was held in Lebanon in 2017. It brought together scientists from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and internationally-renowned experts to discuss the threat of infectious disease in a region that is potentially conducive to their spread because of political instability and the migration of populations. This conference was organized in association with the Lebanese Society for Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology, the Lancet Infectious Diseases, the Middle Eastern Office of the Francophone University Association and the ESA Business School.

Support for mothers and children

As a country, Lebanon hosts some of the largest numbers of Syrians fleeing the civil war. In partnership with Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux, we plan to build a medico-social center to care for and guide Syrian refugees who arrive in the Bekaa region in northeast Lebanon, which is home to 400,000 refugees. Medical services will be provided for women (with a gynecology and obstetrics unit) and children (with a pediatric unit) and sessions on the importance of good daily hygiene and health practices will be organized. The center is being built with support from the Department of International Cooperation of the Principality of Monaco. Our local partner, the Lebanese NGO Amel, will manage the center.

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