Fondation Merieux

A family foundation dedicated to fighting infectious diseases

Lettre d'information

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco visits the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory in Haiti

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco traveled to Haiti for the inauguration, 15th February, of the Prince Albert II of Monaco School, in the GHESKIO Centre in Port-au-Prince where the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory is also located. Alain Mérieux, President of Fondation Mérieux, Dr. Jean-William Pape, founder and Director of the GHESKIO Centres, Dr. Marie M.H. Deschamps, Secretary General of the GHESKIO Centres and Benoît Miribel, Director General of Fondation Mérieux participated in the inauguration.

The school was made possible through funding by Monaco Collectif Haïti, a project initiated by HSH Prince Albert II in response to the earthquake that struck the country in 2010. It opened its doors for the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year and has 160 students from the nearby shantytown, ’City of God’. The school should ultimately have 290 children attending classes.

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco also visited the Rodolphe Merieux Laboratory. 70 Haitians ensure the diagnosis of tuberculosis and cholera for the entire country in the laboratory that receives 30,000 new patients each year.

A forerunner in research and fighting HIV/AIDS, there are 26 GHESKIO healthcare centres in Haiti. These infrastructures, inaugurated in February 2009, enable better care for the Haitian population, particularly hard hit by infectious pathogens. It offers a wide range of services, including the care of patients with tuberculosis, AIDS and other infectious diseases.

The Princely Government and Fondation Mérieux initiated a three-year partnership in 2011 to improve the diagnosis and care of patients in Mali and Madagascar.

Watch the interview of Dr. Marie M.H. Deschamps, Secretary General of the GHESKIO Centres (FR)

Lettre d'information

Quality Laboratory Services for better TB control: the Global Laboratory Initiative’s annual meeting

Co-organized by Fondation Mérieux and the World Health Organization, the Global Laboratory Initiative (GLI) Partner meeting was held 15-18 April, at Fondation Mérieux’s Les Pensières conference centre. It convened over 140 participants, including foremost experts and key stakeholders in the areas of tuberculosis diagnostics and laboratory capacity building.

Solutions for increasing access to diagnostics

The goal of the meeting was to bring together representatives from global agencies, international technical and funding partners, research organizations, non-governmental agencies, country-level tuberculosis (TB) control programs, the TB Supranational Reference Laboratory network, and patient communities to find solutions for increasing access to diagnostics within quality laboratory services for better TB control.

The meeting focused on emerging science in the field of tuberculosis and developments within the GLI network. Current projects were discussed, such as the rollout of Xpert® MTB/RIF, a new test for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) and resistance to rifampicin. Policy guidance on TB diagnostics, laboratory biosafety and accreditation were among the topics covered as well as the TB diagnostics pipeline and potential impact of new technologies on laboratory strengthening efforts. The need to scale up technical assistance to countries to strengthen laboratory networks was also highlighted.

About the GLI

The GLI provides a multi-faceted yet integrated approach to laboratory capacity strengthening in the field of tuberculosis. The GLI is comprised of a network of international partners dedicated to accelerating and expanding access to quality-assured laboratory services to address the diagnostic challenges of tuberculosis, notably, HIV-associated and drug-resistant TB. Scaling up laboratory services to meet these challenges requires a paradigm shift in laboratory development policy, setting laboratory standards, guiding and coordinating technical assistance, and accelerating knowledge transfer.

Membership of the GLI has continued to grow and more than 100 international partners have joined forces. The GLI works closely with national TB programs, nongovernmental organizations, technical and financial agencies, scientific and academic institutions, and WHO offices, at country and regional levels, to strengthen TB laboratory services.

Lettre d'information

RESAOLAB opens a new centre in Ouagadougou to reinforce the quality of biomedical analyses

A new centre for training and External Quality Control has opened in Burkina Faso as part of the RESAOLAB* project.

It was inaugurated on 28th March by Lene Sebgo, Minister of Health, and the project’s partners, Fondation Mérieux, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the national laboratory networks and administrations of the countries participating in RESAOLAB, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal. Representatives from the health ministries of Benin, Guinea, Niger and Togo were also present.

The new centre will organise continuous training of laboratory professionals to strengthen laboratory capacity for patient care and epidemiological surveillance. Its facilities include a classroom for 30 people, a microscopy room and a computer room for distance learning. The External Quality Control Unit will monitor the quality of laboratory analyses and enable laboratory personnel training to be adjusted to improve the quality of testing.

RESAOLAB aims to improve the health of populations by supporting the clinical laboratory sector and developing a network of laboratories among the participating countries. It focuses on three essential activities:

  • continuous training of laboratory personnel

  • quality management of testing

  • and epidemiological surveillance.

These three areas are approached in a unified manner in the three member countries to leverage their experiences and begin a process of harmonizing practices at the regional level.

The project was launched in 2009, at the request of the health ministries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal. Today, 45 laboratories in these three countries belong to the RESAOLAB network. It is co-financed by the Agence Française de Développement and Fondation Mérieux to contribute to the fight against infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Fondation Mérieux coordinates the implementation of RESAOLAB and works closely with the ministries of health of the three countries. The Agence Française de Développement, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the International Cooperation of Monaco, the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Africa and the West African Health Organisation (OOAS) collaborate on this project.

* RESAOLAB: Réseau d’Afrique de l’Ouest des Laboratoires d’Analyses Biologiques (West African network of biomedical analysis laboratories)

Lettre d'information

Freedom in biological research meeting: can science and biosecurity be reconciled

Lessons learned from the publication controversy over H5N1

Research on how the ’bird flu’ A/H5N1 influenza virus strain could be potentially transmitted among mammals spurred controversy last year when two publications submitted to Science and Nature were at first censored, then ultimately authorized, by the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB). The censorship was due to concerns that the publications would divulge information that could potentially be misused for bioterrorism. Beyond intentional misuse, the accidental escape of microbes from the laboratory is a reality and has been documented in the literature on several occasions.

In the name of biosecurity, can Society infringe upon the fundamental principle of Freedom of Science and the pursuit of knowledge?

Fondation Mérieux and Inserm, the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research, convened leading international experts at the Pensières conference center February 6th-8th to discuss freedom in biomedical research. Dr. David Relman, Professor in the Departments of Medicine and of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University; Prof. Albert Osterhaus, Head of the Institute of Virology, Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam; Prof. Simon Wain-Hobson, Head of the Department of Molecular Retrovirology at the Pasteur Institute, France and Martin Enserink, a journalist writing for Science, were among the diverse panel of participants.

A publication is in preparation that will summarize the discussions held during the meeting on the potential benefits and risks of A/H5N1 bioengineering studies, new rules for dual-use biological research and the broader question of the autonomy of science.

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