Promoting access to diagnostics with the Foundations

As part of its sponsorship activities, bioMérieux supports the work of the Mérieux Foundation, which has public interest status, and the Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux, under the aegis of the Institut de France.

These two independent family foundations work together closely to combat infectious diseases and to sustainably improve the quality of life and health of vulnerable populations.

In 2020, bioMérieux allocated nearly €15 million to these family foundations to support their work, including €12 million on an exceptional basis.

Combating COVID-19

As a longtime ally for local stakeholders in the fight against infectious disease, the Foundation Mérieux mobilized as soon as the first warnings about the pandemic were sounded to provide assistance to the low- and middle-income countries with whom it works. The Foundation made a priority of responding to COVID-19 through large shipments of diagnostic tests, and by setting up a study (NOSO-COR) in hospitals in France and seven other countries to assess the risk of healthcare-associated infections. It also launched and expanded projects and provided support for local health authorities.

To develop these initiatives and work more closely with the hardest-hit countries, the Mérieux Foundation received an exceptional donation through bioMérieux dividends to help it respond to the unprecedented challenges created by the pandemic.

This Exceptional Funding Plan was used to implement four groups of projects in around 20 countries. They focused on building and renovating infrastructure, providing additional equipment for the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratories and other partner laboratories active on the ground, developing training/knowledge sharing-projects and launching COVID-19 research. In addition to these central themes, plans are underway to build a new Bioforce center in Jordan.

Acting in low- and middle-income countries

  • RESAOLAB (West African Network of Biomedical Analysis Laboratories) was initiated by the Foundation in 2009 to improve access to quality diagnostics for vulnerable individuals in seven West African countries. The third phase of the project has begun, and RESAOLAB received additional funding to support its COVID-19 response in the seven countries that are members of the network.
  • The SEALAB project, launched in 2020, aims to strengthen healthcare systems in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar and to provide a response to emerging infectious diseases with pandemic or zoonotic potential.
  • The APRECIT project, which assesses strategies to improve global screening and care for latent tuberculosis infections in Cameroon and Madagascar, got underway in October.
  • In Madagascar, the EVAMAD project was launched in December. It aims to improve care for people living with HIV by gradually expanding access to viral load testing.
  • The Foundation was also asked to contribute to projects to fight antimicrobial resistance supported by the Fleming Fund in Asia and Africa.
  • In Madagascar, an initiative to create educational kits for children and their communities began several years ago. Four educational kits have been developed on the following topics: hygiene, malnutrition, infectious diseases and sex education. The kits are distributed to schools in Madagascar with support from the Ministry of National Education and several partner NGOs.

 

 Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratories

  • Most of the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratories have played a key role in COVID-19 diagnostics, particularly those in Rio Branco, Brazil, and Beirut, Lebanon.
  • The container labs sent to Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in late 2019 are in operation now that the equipment is in place and support and training has been provided to the lab technicians. In the second half of 2020, approximately 7,000 COVID-19 tests were performed in these laboratories.
  • The Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory in Bamako, Mali received NM ISO 15189:2012 accreditation and was designated as a reference laboratory for COVID-19 diagnostics.