Praesens Foundation is proud to announce that it has officially launched its Mobile Lab pilot project in Senegal in collaboration with Institut Pasteur Dakar (IPD). An aligned mission, complementary skills and a multidisciplinary approach form the basis of this partnership. Together we are determined to unite our forces, our experiences and our efforts to solve public health issues and are commited to make a difference for the communities who need it most.
The Mobile Lab has been made available for a pilot study that will run over a six months period. While complementing IPD’s current ecosystem of fixed labs and surveillance networks, the Mobile Lab will be evaluated thoroughly on its performance against field conditions, robustness and its technical and operational sustainability which will provide us with the necessary insights to further improve our solution.
After a two week shipping between Antwerp and Dakar, the Mobile Lab set foot on African soil. We spent a full week on training sessions with the local technical, biosecurity and virology teams to get everyone expedition-ready and also hosted the important visit of H.E. the Belgian Ambassador to Senegal, Mr. Hambrouck, the Ambassador Secretary, Mr. Françoys from the Belgian Development Agency, Prof. Sow, Lab Director from the Ministry of Health and Mr Gueye from the Cellule des Opérations d’Urgence Sanitaire who have shown their interest in and support of our Mobile Lab project.
On board of the Mobile Lab and assisted by a support vehicle, we have driven over 700 kilometres across the country to arrive in Kédougou, a region in the South-East of Senegal near the border with Mali and Guinea. Under the watchful eyes of patas monkeys, baboons and warthogs, the Mobile Lab was able to demonstrate its great off-road capacities on the laterite tracks of the beautiful Niokolo-Koba National Park.
Upon our arrival, we were hosted at the local IPD health post that usually runs entomological activities and surveillance programs on tropical fevers and partnered with the Health centre of Kédougou as well as the dispensary at the Kédougou military base for the patient selection and sample collection process. The medical activities mainly focus on the investigation and diagnostic of tropical pathogens (arboviruses, hemorrhagic fevers) as well as respiratory viruses.
The samples that are collected in the local health structures are usually sent to Institut Pasteur Dakar (being the national reference center) for analysis which is time consuming, labor intensive and costly and can result in late diagnosis of epidemics in more remote regions. Therefore fully-automated, simple and accurate technologies are crucial for identification of a potential threat in outbreak areas. The advantage of direct virus detection using RT-PCR is the speed, sensitivity and specificity of diagnosis. Our Mobile Lab solution dedicated to rapid detection of infectious diseases in hard to reach areas with very limited or non existent health infrastructures perfectly addresses these needs.
To date, we have processed over 200 samples and the study has shown promising results.
Praesens Foundation has already made significant progress towards achieving impact and the adventure has only just started…
Thanks to the support of their partners:
Institut Pasteur de Dakar
King Baudouin Foundation
b.foundation for Africa