Antibiotics have dramatically reduced the number of deaths from infectious diseases during the 70 years since their introduction. However, through overuse and misuse of these medicines, many pathogens have become antibiotic resistant.
While the problem of antibacterial resistance is recognized as a major threat globally, many regions where MSF works are hit especially hard. In these contexts, invasive bacterial infections continue to be leading causes of illness and death, partly because diagnostic laboratory capacity in low-resource and emergency settings is severely limited by challenges in infrastructure, logistics, supplies, performance test and availability of trained staff. For these reasons, few MSF projects have access to full clinical bacteriology laboratories.
Today the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases has published an article by MSF and the Institute of Tropical Medicine (Ombelet, Ronat et al., 2018) describing why conventional clinical bacteriology laboratories are poorly adapted to the constraints of low-resource and emergency settings, and highlighting the need for development of adapted laboratory technics and equipments.
That’s where “Mini-lab” comes in: MSF is working to develop a small-scale, quality-assured, stand-alone, and transportable clinical bacteriology laboratory that can be easily used by non-experts after brief training. The Mini-lab will be accessible at an affordable cost and is expected to be available by mid-2020 in MSF projects.