Diagnostics & global health security

Dear FIND colleagues, partners, friends,

This month we kicked off a pilot to develop diagnostics for pathogens with outbreak potential using a novel partnership-based business model that pairs assay developers with instrument manufacturers. The model is designed to facilitate sustainable, rapid expansion of diagnostic test menus in order to be able to address newly emerging pathogens. In conjunction with this, we published our outbreak strategy, Diagnostics for epidemic preparedness. The strategy outlines the work we are undertaking to address gaps in technical solutions, market sustainability and response speed in order to enhance preparedness of the global health community to identify and contain future outbreaks.

Another big announcement for FIND was our new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the UK government’s Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund (GAMRIF), backed by an award of GBP 5 million of UK aid. This partnership will allow us to engage in a 3-year project focusing on bolstering connectivity of diagnostic tools that can be used to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Specifically, we will develop tools and solutions to connect vital information from AMR-related diagnostic testing of patients and ensure it reaches national surveillance programmes in low- and middle-income countries.

Finally, we note the publication of the first-ever WHO Essential Diagnostics List (EDL). The EDL details the in vitro diagnostics that are indispensable to routine patient care. Roughly half of the 113 listed tests deal with priority communicable diseases like HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and viral hepatitis. While this is a significant milestone for the diagnostics community, the real value of the list will be seen if and when countries employ it in a way that increases access to diagnostics without compromising market sustainability.

Taking a broader look at the last few weeks, it is clear that pandemic preparedness – fueled by the new outbreak of Ebola in the DRC – is increasingly high on the global agenda. Likewise AMR and the potential impact it will have on global health security is starting to take center stage. Around both topics, discussion about the role and importance of diagnostics – and how they can and should be integrated into existing global health mechanisms alongside vaccines and treatment – are gathering steam and funders are stepping up to help organizations like FIND translate aspirations into reality.