Temps forts

2021 at a glance

March 2021


Laying of the foundation stone of the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory at the Institut Pasteur du Maroc, Casablanca 

April 2021


APRECIT project kick-offproject on the improvement of the management of latent tuberculosis 

May 2021


21st edition of the Advanced Course in Vaccinology (ADVAC) in hybrid format 

May 2021


Launch of the C19-HaïtiLab project for the reinforcement of laboratories

June 2021

West Africa

Workshops of the 3rd phase of RESAOLAB, the West African network of medical biology laboratories

October 2021


Inauguration of Nutrisud, production unit of nutritional supplements in the south of the island

October 2021


Organization of RESAMAD workshops, the network of laboratories in Madagascar

October 2021


Inauguration of the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory at the Institut Pasteur de Tunis

November 2021


2nd edition of the Antimicrobial Resistance Course (AMR)

November 2021


11th meeting of the GABRIEL research network at Les Pensières Center for Global Health 

November 2021


Inauguration of the Youssouf Issabré Maternity Hospital in Bamako 

November 2021


1st edition of the Afro-ACDx course on diagnostics in Africa

November 2021


Mérieux Foundation‘s membership to the international coalition Every Breath Counts to reduce pneumonia in low-resource countries

December 2021


Strengthening HIV Viral Load Surveillance and monitoring through the LabMyNet project 


Infrastructure and training: two cornerstones for the reinforcement of laboratories

Improving access to biological diagnosis has always been one of the Mérieux Foundation’s key objectives and this is an essential requirement for making progress in healthcare. How can the right care be provided without testing? How can an epidemic be brought under control without knowing which pathogenic agent is responsible? Reliable health data based on high-quality biological tests are essential for defining health policies to meet the requirements of each territory.

These data are also key when it comes to monitoring diseases and providing evidence of the evolution of epidemics, as COVID-19 and its variants have so forcefully reminded us.
Support for laboratories and for training health professionals is therefore proving to be an essential aspect of our actions in the field.

The Foundation’s projects made a great deal of progress in 2021. They all rely on a collaborative mindset to support the efforts of people working in local healthcare and on a long-term perspective to increase the autonomy of facilities.

Renovation, construction and equipment of infrastructure

The renovation of hospital laboratories and the building of state-of-the-art facilities constitute an initial step towards strengthening local health systems and lies at the heart of the projects supported by the Foundation. The quality of diagnosis and research activities, as well as the fulfilment of biosecurity standards and international recommendations, depend on the renovation of facilities.

In 2021, several key milestones were reached: On October 27, the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory in Tunis was opened and presented to the Institut Pasteur de Tunis and to Tunisia. As the only level 3 biosecurity facility in the country, this laboratory will enhance the means of controlling epidemics in the region, such as rabies and tuberculosis, and emerging or re-emerging viruses, such as West Nile and Ebola. The laboratory in Tunis is the 10th Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory. The 11th laboratory will be in Casablanca, where construction work began in March 2021. Situated on the site of the Institut Pasteur du Maroc, it is set to become a key center for the diagnosis, monitoring, and surveillance of tuberculosis and mycobacteria.

The Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory in Casablanca is one of the projects funded by the exceptional donation by bioMérieux shareholders in 2020 as a response to the health crisis. This funding, amounting to a total of 12 million euros, also enabled work to begin on a Hygiene and Environment laboratory at the Centre Pasteur du Cameroun, in Yaoundé, and the start of the reconstruction of the microbiology laboratory at the Bobo-Dioulasso University Hospital in Burkina Faso.

As well as these new constructions, the donation also aims to reinforce existing infrastructure: the Charles Mérieux Center for Infectious Disease (CICM) in Madagascar, operated within the framework of a close partnership with Madagascar’s ministry of public health and the University of Antananarivo, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2021 and presented its plans for expansion.

This support for laboratories also extends to identifying requirements for specific equipment within each of our partner laboratories.

Ten countries received and installed new laboratory equipment in 2020 and 2021, allowing them to reinforce their activities or modernize their technical platforms.

Training laboratory staff

Going hand in hand with the reinforcement of infrastructure, training health professionals guarantees the smooth running of a laboratory, while also ensuring its continuity and autonomy. The training courses supplied by the Foundation go beyond fundamental laboratory science to cover quality management, data management, and continuous improvement.

Reinforcing the skills of laboratory managers

Since 2019, the Foundation has been an operational partner of the GLLP (Global Laboratory Leadership Program) consortium, set up by six major international organizations. The GLLP program was selected by the Global Fund as a training program for laboratory managers. Based on local mentoring schemes, it is supervised by the Mérieux Foundation in Mali, Guinea, and Chad.

The leadership module of the GLLP program also provided the basis for the first edition of the Advanced Course on Diagnostics for French-speaking African Countries (Afro ACDx), organized jointly by the Mérieux Foundation and the Institut Pasteur de Dakar in November in Senegal.

The LABOGUI project in Guinea allows the Foundation to help develop the skills of laboratory technicians in local and regional hospitals, with the financial support of the AFD (Agence Française de Développement, or French Development Agency) and Biologie Sans Frontières (BSF). This involves providing initial training for teachers at the École Nationale de Santé (National Health School) and ongoing training through coaching activities and training in bench techniques.

The Foundation is involved in issues concerning antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Cambodia and Laos through the QWArS program. With the support of the Fleming Fund, QWArS offers an exhaustive and in-depth training program, part of a genuine One Health approach for laboratory technicians in human and veterinary healthcare, to gain a deeper understanding and learn how to tackle AMR.

In Senegal and Myanmar, the Foundation is also involved in other projects financed by the Fleming Fund, whose training activities form part of a mentoring scheme for young managers in the human and animal healthcare system. Several training workshops have been organized by the Foundation and six Senegalese interns took part in the AMR (Antimicrobial Resistance) course that was held at the Les Pensières Center.

MOOC in Quality Management

Set up by the Mérieux Foundation in partnership with AFNOR and the Institut Pasteur, the third MOOC session on quality management in laboratories was attended by almost 4,000 participants from 97 countries in 2021. The course is based on eight weeks of interactive training accessible online to students and all professionals working in biomedical analysis laboratories or involved in an accreditation project. The MOOC has recorded more than 11,500 registrations since 2019.

Supporting young researchers

The assistance provided for laboratory staff by the Mérieux Foundation also involves supporting the careers of researchers. The Foundation encourages scientific research and rewards the work of researchers in tackling infectious diseases in countries with limited resources through various initiatives. Since 2019, the Foundation has been organizing an annual call for funding applications for PhD research grants within the GABRIEL network. Two Young Researcher prizes are also awarded each year to promising scientists from the network.

In 2021, two-year grants were allocated to two Bengali students, enabling them to expand their theoretical knowledge of infections and immunity and to develop their capacity to set up and lead a research program as part of an International Master’s in Research at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

Specialists working for the Mérieux Foundation include postgraduate students who are writing their theses on the Foundation’s research projects. They may also have the opportunity to present their work and participate in renowned scientific conferences. This was the case for four of them in 2021, at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID), the 52nd Union World Conference on Lung Health, and the International Conference on Prevention and Infection Control (ICPIC).

Supporting students on degree programs

In terms of degree programs, the Foundation is the co-initiator of the Bachelor’s degree in Applied Medical Biology (BAMS) alongside the École Supérieure de Biochimie-Biologie-Biotechnologies (ESTBB), launched in Mali in 2007 and in Haiti in 2011, before being integrated into the university courses offered by both these countries in 2019. The Mérieux Foundation and the ESTBB in Lyon continue to provide support for local partners. Based on these experiences, a new eBAMS format has been developed. This is a blended learning program based on theoretical modules taught online and periods of practical work in the classroom. The project could be rolled out in Madagascar, which has a considerable need to train laboratory technicians.

The Foundation has also awarded four study grants to pharmacy students in West Africa to allow them to complete the Medical Biology internship thanks to a donation from the association Ipharmex. In Madagascar, the Foundation has also been providing assistance for pharmacy degree courses since 2011, with the support of several operational and financial partners.

Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratories

Funded by the Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux, the Rodolphe Mérieux laboratories of excellence are the cornerstones of the GABRIEL network, set up by the Foundation in 2008. Handed over to local healthcare entities to reinforce their applied research and diagnosis activities in a sustainable way, these laboratories meet the most stringent international standards. Ten Rodolphe Mérieux laboratories have been set up since 2005 in Mali, Cambodia, Haiti, Laos, Madagascar, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Tunisia.

© Mérieux Foundation