New lab strengthens TB/HIV care, research

Ambassador Carter speaks at the opening of the microbiology lab at the Pasteur Institute

TB diagnosis and care are taking a giant step forward in Côte d’Ivoire with the opening of the country’s first biosecurity Level 3 laboratory at the Pasteur Institute in Abidjan.

Constructed and equipped with CDC/PEPFAR funding, the laboratory was inaugurated Sept. 11 in conjunction with the celebration of Pasteur Institute’s 40th anniversary, in a ceremony attended by the Grand Chancellor of Côte d’Ivoire; the ambassadors of the United States, France, and Guinea; representatives of the Ministry of Health and AIDS, Ministry of Higher Education and Research, and major Ivoirian health facilities; and the director of CDC’s International HIV Laboratory Branch.

Equipped with the latest technology for conventional bacteriology as well as molecular diagnosis, the new lab permits rapid TB diagnosis and detection of cases of multi-drug-resistant TB, and provides a platform for top-rank training and research.

Institute Pasteur de Côte d’Ivoire (IPCI) Director Prof. Mireille Dosso thanked the United States and other partners for “this high-performance tool, which will impact our research in a lasting way, in addition to allowing better care for patients.” IPCI researchers and students will be able to do world-class work, she said, “and perhaps this will help limit the brain drain that has hindered the establishment of research teams working on the problems of our society.”

TB is the leading killer of people living with HIV. About 25% of TB patients in Côte d’Ivoire are co-infected with TB. A 2006 study showed that 2.5% of never-treated TB patients had multi-drug-resistant strains of the infection.

PEPFAR support for TB/HIV care in Côte d’Ivoire, totaling more than $23 million since 2004, also funded the recent renovation and upgrading of TB labs at CeDReS and the CAT (TB center) in Adjamé, in a strategy to strengthen and decentralize TB diagnostic capacities.

Pasteur Institute CI, established in 1972, is responsible for national integrated disease surveillance and response and includes 20 national reference centers for microbiology testing (polio, hepatitis, meningitis, etc.). Its mission includes research, training, support of national health programs, and diagnostic services.

In 2010, Pasteur Institute won a five-year CDC/PEPFAR cooperative agreement designed to strengthen national laboratory systems and decentralize high-quality microbiology diagnostic services (including 15 regional laboratories and six sexually transmitted infection clinic labs) with an emphasis on TB, STIs and other HIV/AIDS-related opportunistic infections. The award emphasizes the development of national strategy, policy, and guideline documents and includes operations research regarding a regional diagnostic platform to support effective patient care.

The new laboratory grew out of a 2008 technical assistance visit by CDC and the World Health Organization. Other collaborating partners supporting technical assistance, training, construction, and equipment include CDC’s Projet Retro-CI, the American Society of Microbiology, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the International Foundation for New Diagnostic Tools (FIND).