18 December 2012- The 6th annual RESOLAB coordination meeting has taken place from 3 to 7 December 2012 in Dakar, Senegal. RESOLAB is the West and Central Africa Veterinary Laboratory Network for Avian Influenza and other transboundary animal diseases and includes 23 members, which are national animal health laboratories from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
During the meeting, changes in the RESOLAB structure have been decided upon as follows: To ensure sustainability and institutionalization within the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), RESOLAB has been split into RESOLAB-WA for West Africa and RESOLAB-CA for Central Africa. Coordinators and deputy – coordinators will be appointed every 2 years. For the next two years the coordination for West Africa will be ensured by Ghana and Mali and for Central Africa by Chad and Gabon.
Existing sub-networks focused on priority diseases (Rabies, Peste des petits ruminants [PPR] and Foot-and-Mouth Disease [FMD]) have reviewed their past activities and planed future activities for 2013. These sub-networks will be assisted technically by international laboratories, preferably FAO/OIE reference centres as follows: rabies (Istituto Zooprofilattico delle Venezie [IZSVe], Italy), PPR (Agriculture Research for Development [CIRAD], France and the joint FAO/IAEA division in Vienna) and FMD (French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety [ANSES] , France).
Given the importance of African swine fever (ASF) a new sub-network on this disease has been created, with the technical support from Centro de Investigación en Sanidad Animal- Instituto Nacional de Investigación Agraria y Alimentaria (CISA-INIA), Spain. Considerations to set up a Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) network have been made and decision will be taken in the next RESOLAB meeting.
Additionally, the two RESOLAB working groups will continue their work on thematic areas of common interest for the RESOLAB member countries:
- The Laboratory quality assurance (QA) group -supported by experts deployed by France Vétérinaire International (FVI) – which main task will be to develop with FAO a road map and an evaluation template on the QA implementation progress.
- The Sustainability group, supported by FAO and CIRAD, will work on ways of improving anchorage of the network within their respective Regional Economic Communities, exploring funding options and proposing a common approach for sustainability with the Epidemiosurveillance networks in West and Central Africa (RESEPI-WA and CA).
The main recommendations of the meeting included i) to design a regional strategic framework on laboratory capacities strengthening; ii) for laboratory directors to explore funding sources for the RESOLAB activities and to sensitize national authorities about the importance of RESOLAB; iii) to further develop laboratory capacity through external project support; iv) for the national laboratories to increase their collaboration and dialogue with the veterinary epidemiology units as well as the private sector towards an increased sample throughput in national laboratories; v) for the national laboratories to carry out regular self-evaluations –through the use of the FAO Laboratory Mapping Tool (LMT) developed by FAO- and share results with the members of RESOLAB. The next annual RESOLAB meeting in 2013, comprising both RESOLAB –WA and RESOLAB-CA, is proposed to be held in Ndjamena, Chad.
According to development partners, RESOLAB is at present the only existing platform for regional dialogue and coordination of animal health laboratories in this region, and should be supported.