The Africa Public Health Foundation (APHF), Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO), Global Health Systems Solutions (GHSS), and Institut Pasteur De Dakar (IPD) held meetings in Dakar, Senegal and in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso to introduce, align and plan next steps on the implementation of Regional Integrated Surveillance Laboratory Network (RISLNET) in West Africa.
RISLNET is a network of networks that harnesses existing public health assets on a regional level to strengthen national and regional laboratory systems, improve quality standards and promote networks for integration whilst leveraging the existing assets within the various sub-regions to effectively prevent, rapidly detect, and resolutely respond to current and emerging public health threats, including potential outbreaks and the spread of infectious diseases.
As part of its mandate, APHF participated in the selection of GHSS as an implementing partner to work directly with Africa CDC in the implementation of a grant received from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support Africa CDC in implementing its regional framework in the West African region. Africa CDC is already implementing RISLNET in other regions in the continent e.g., Central Africa, and intends to extend its support to ongoing and new RISLNET activities in West Africa. As such, Africa CDC will partner with WAHO to work with selected implementing partners to implement select objectives of the RISLNET initiative.
WAHO has done extensive work in West Africa, including some RISLNET-related work like surveillance and laboratory establishment/strengthening. Aligning grant activities to WAHO’s ongoing activities is vital to prevent duplication of work and to ensure a prudent and efficient use of resources. Seven objectives were discussed and agreed upon to be the main point of focus.
In addition, the meeting led to a clear definition of roles and activities that GHSS and IPD will delve on. IPD will be involved in supporting the development of a governance framework and statute for RISLNET implementation that defines its function and operations, facilitate cross border transfer of specimens in Western African Region and support Syndromic Sentinel Surveillance System in the region. GHSS will develop the capacity of Member States laboratories to implement Quality Management Systems for continuous quality improvement process towards accreditation (SLMTA) tool and Stepwise Laboratory Improvement Towards Accreditation (SLIPTA) in selected reference laboratories in the sub-region of West Africa and develop laboratory equipment maintenance and calibration in the western Africa Member States.
They will also have combined activities whereby they will support regular regional activities for networking/Governance and Laboratory Capacity building in the region and link Laboratories by the Project ECHO platform and support regular regional activities for networking/Governance and Laboratory Capacity building in the region and link Laboratories by the Project ECHO platform.