Regional Impact

We were the first program to adopt a regional approach to address the challenges facing clinical biology laboratories in West Africa. Initially made up of three countries, today our network encompasses all 15 countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Since the network’s inception, our goal has remained the same: to bring together West African countries in order to strengthen the quality of clinical diagnostics, which is critical to improve public health and monitor epidemics in this region.

RESAOLAB Phase I: 2009-2013

The Mérieux Foundation launched the RESAOLAB project in 2009 with the support of the Agence Française de Développement, at the request of health ministries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal. In 2013, four more West African countries joined.

Since 2009, RESAOLAB has paved the way to set up training programs, build and equip training centers and laboratories, implement quality assurance programs and develop epidemiological surveillance tools. Our achievements have contributed to strengthening capacity and improving the quality of clinical diagnostics in West Africa.

We thank our many partners for their technical and financial support, which has been essential during the project’s implementation.

RESAOLAB Phase II: 2013-2017

During Phase II, RESAOLAB supported initiatives that produced sustainable progress in several areas. Starting in 2015, the network invited representatives of all 15 ECOWAS countries to attend meetings and workshops to develop shared strategies and responses to key challenges in the region.

Other partners providing support during Phase II: Agence Française de Développement, the
Islamic Development Bank, the Department of International Cooperation of the Principality of Monaco, and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

From 2013 to 2017:

  • 3 laboratory directorates were created
  • 7 quality plans were implemented
  • 1,000 laboratories were supervised
  • 130 scholarships were awarded
  • 13 e-learning modules were developed

In addition, the LabBook laboratory information management system (LIMS) was rolled out in 7 countries and 63 people learned how to use it.

Other measures supported by RESAOLAB include laboratory mapping, implementing strategic plans and policies, and developing improved sample referencing methods.

The impact of progress accomplished during Phase II will be felt far into the future.


RESAOLAB today: 15 countries strong

As of 2018, the program is overseen by the Mérieux Foundation’s international team. Focal points appointed by the ministry of health (one per country) are responsible for implementing RESAOLAB initiatives nationally, with the support of designated project teams and managers as needed.

The Mérieux Foundation works with the health ministries to promote a common, harmonized biomedical policy, in close connection with the West African Health Organization (WAHO). It seeks to build local capacity in order to address emerging global health challenges such as antimicrobial resistance – for example by creating a resistance observatory in West Africa.

For laboratories, our expanded network simplifies adherence to international, regional and national health recommendations, including those from the WHO (i.e., the International Health Regulations) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (i.e., the Global Health Security Agenda), as well as WAHO recommendations and those issued by the health ministers of each country.