Mini-Lab—MSF's simplified bacteriology laboratory for low-resource settings

Mini-Lab—MSF's simplified bacteriology laboratory for low-resource settings

Resistance to antibiotics is a growing public health crisis, especially in countries with fragile health systems and in regions at war. One key limitation in most of these settings is a lack of clinical bacteriology laboratory capacity, which leaves medical providers without ways to accurately diagnose patient infections and to tailor antibiotic treatment accordingly. To help fill this critical gap, MSF and partners have developed the Mini-Lab—a small-scale, standalone lab that is easy to transport, set up and operate by staff after only a short training. Its six modules are stocked with everything needed to diagnose common bloodstream and urinary tract infections and to perform antibiotic sensitivity testing using methods adapted to extremely hot climates and remote settings. With Mini-Lab now being rolled out to selected MSF projects, here we highlight the background to its development and some of the research behind the bacteriological tests it incorporates.

8 result(s)
Journal Article > ResearchFull Text
Diagnostics (Basel). 2022 August 30; Volume 12 (Issue 9); 2106.
Ronat JBOueslati SNatale AKesteman TElamin W et al.
Diagnostics (Basel). 2022 August 30; Volume 12 (Issue 9); 2106.
Easy and robust antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) methods are essential in clinical bacteriology laboratories (CBL) in low-resource settings (LRS). We evaluated the Beckman Coulter MicroScan lyophilized broth microdilution panel designed to support Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) CBL activity in difficult settings, in particular with the Mini-Lab. We evaluated the custom-designed MSF MicroScan Gram-pos microplate (MICPOS1) for Staphylococcus and Enterococcus species, MSF MicroScan Gram-neg microplate (MICNEG1) for Gram-negative bacilli, and MSF MicroScan Fastidious microplate (MICFAST1) for Streptococci and Haemophilus species using 387 isolates from routine CBLs from LRS against the reference methods. Results showed that, for all selected antibiotics on the three panels, the proportion of the category agreement was above 90% and the proportion of major and very major errors was below 3%, as per ISO standards. The use of the Prompt inoculation system was found to increase the MIC and the major error rate for some antibiotics when testing Staphylococci. The readability of the manufacturer’s user manual was considered challenging for low-skilled staff. The inoculations and readings of the panels were estimated as easy to use. In conclusion, the three MSF MicroScan MIC panels performed well against clinical isolates from LRS and provided a convenient, robust, and standardized AST method for use in CBL in LRS.
Journal Article > ResearchFull Text
Lancet Microbe. 2021 December 13; Volume S2666-5247 (Issue 21); 00241-X.
Ombelet SNatale ARonat JBKesteman TVandenberg O et al.
Lancet Microbe. 2021 December 13; Volume S2666-5247 (Issue 21); 00241-X.
BACKGROUND
Manual blood culture bottles (BCBs) are frequently used in low-resource settings. There are few BCB performance evaluations, especially evaluations comparing them with automated systems. We evaluated two manual BCBs (Bi-State BCB and BacT/ALERT BCB) and compared their yield and time to growth detection with those of automated BacT/ALERT system.

METHODS
BCBs were spiked in triplicate with 177 clinical isolates representing pathogens common in low-resource settings (19 bacterial and one yeast species) in adult and paediatric volumes, resulting in 1056 spiked BCBs per BCB system. Growth in manual BCBs was evaluated daily by visually inspecting the broth, agar slant, and, for BacT/ALERT BCB, colour change of the growth indicator. The primary outcomes were BCB yield (proportion of spiked BCB showing growth) and time to detection (proportion of positive BCB with growth detected on day 1 of incubation). 95% CI for yield and growth on day 1 were calculated using bootstrap method for clustered data using. Secondary outcomes were time to colony for all BCBs (defined as number of days between incubation and colony growth sufficient to use for further testing) and difference between time to detection in broth and on agar slant for the Bi-State BCBs.

FINDINGS
Overall yield was 95·9% (95% CI 93·9–98·0) for Bi-State BCB and 95·5% (93·3–97·8) for manual BacT/ALERT, versus 96·1% (94·0–98·1) for the automated BacT/ALERT system (p=0·61). Day 1 growth was present in 920 (90·8%) of 1013 positive Bi-State BCB and 757 (75·0%) of 1009 positive manual BacT/ALERT BCB, versus 1008 (99·3%) of 1015 automated bottles. On day 2, detection rates were 100% for BI-State BCB, 97·7% for manual BacT/ALERT BCB, and 100% for automated bottles. For Bi-State BCB, growth mostly occurred simultaneously in broth and slant (81·7%). Sufficient colony growth on the slant to perform further tests was present in only 44·1% of biphasic bottles on day 2 and 59·0% on day 3.

INTERPRETATION
The yield of manual BCB was comparable with the automated system, suggesting that manual blood culture systems are an acceptable alternative to automated systems in low-resource settings. Bi-State BCB outperformed manual BacT/ALERT bottles, but the agar slant did not allow earlier detection nor earlier colony growth. Time to detection for manual blood culture systems still lags that of automated systems, and research into innovative and affordable methods of growth detection in manual BCBs is encouraged.
Journal Article > ReviewFull Text
Clin Microbiol Infect. 2021 October 1; Volume 27 (Issue 10); 1414-1421.
Ronat JBNatale AKesteman TAndremont AElamin W et al.
Clin Microbiol Infect. 2021 October 1; Volume 27 (Issue 10); 1414-1421.
BACKGROUND
In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), data related to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are often inconsistently collected. Humanitarian, private and non-governmental medical organizations (NGOs), working with or in parallel to public medical systems, are sometimes present in these contexts. Yet, what is the role of NGOs in the fight against AMR, and how can they contribute to AMR data collection in contexts where reporting is scarce? How can context-adapted, high-quality clinical bacteriology be implemented in remote, challenging and underserved areas of the world?

OBJECTIVES
The aim was to provide an overview of AMR data collection challenges in LMICs and describe one initiative, the Mini-Lab project developed by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), that attempts to partially address them.

SOURCES
We conducted a literature review using PubMed and Google scholar databases to identify peer-reviewed research and grey literature from publicly available reports and websites.

CONTENT
We address the necessity of and difficulties related to obtaining AMR data in LMICs, as well as the role that actors outside of public medical systems can play in the collection of this information. We then describe how the Mini-Lab can provide simplified bacteriological diagnosis and AMR surveillance in challenging settings.

IMPLICATIONS
NGOs are responsible for a large amount of healthcare provision in some very low-resourced contexts. As a result, they also have a role in AMR control, including bacteriological diagnosis and the collection of AMR-related data. Actors outside the public medical system can actively contribute to implementing and adapting clinical bacteriology in LMICs and can help improve AMR surveillance and data collection.
Journal Article > ResearchFull Text
Diagnostics (Basel). 2021 February 19; Volume 11 (Issue 2); 349.
Ombelet SNatale ARonat JBVandenberg OHardy L et al.
Diagnostics (Basel). 2021 February 19; Volume 11 (Issue 2); 349.
Bacterial identification is challenging in low-resource settings (LRS). We evaluated the MicroScan identification panels (Beckman Coulter, Brea, CA, USA) as part of Médecins Sans Frontières' Mini-lab Project. The MicroScan Dried Overnight Positive ID Type 3 (PID3) panels for Gram-positive organisms and Dried Overnight Negative ID Type 2 (NID2) panels for Gram-negative organisms were assessed with 367 clinical isolates from LRS. Robustness was studied by inoculating Gram-negative species on the Gram-positive panel and vice versa. The ease of use of the panels and readability of the instructions for use (IFU) were evaluated. Of species represented in the MicroScan database, 94.6% (185/195) of Gram-negative and 85.9% (110/128) of Gram-positive isolates were correctly identified up to species level. Of species not represented in the database (e.g., Streptococcus suis and Bacillus spp.), 53.1% out of 49 isolates were incorrectly identified as non-related bacterial species. Testing of Gram-positive isolates on Gram-negative panels and vice versa (n = 144) resulted in incorrect identifications for 38.2% of tested isolates. The readability level of the IFU was considered too high for LRS. Inoculation of the panels was favorably evaluated, whereas the visual reading of the panels was considered error-prone. In conclusion, the accuracy of the MicroScan identification panels was excellent for Gram-negative species and good for Gram-positive species. Improvements in stability, robustness, and ease of use have been identified to assure adaptation to LRS constraints.
Journal Article > CommentaryFull Text
Lancet Microbe. 2020 June 1; Volume 1 (Issue 2); e56-e58.
Natale ARonat JBMazoyer ARochard ABoillot B et al.
Lancet Microbe. 2020 June 1; Volume 1 (Issue 2); e56-e58.
Journal Article > CommentaryFull Text
J Antimicrob Chemother. 2019 April 10; Volume 1 (Issue 1); dlz002.
Kanapathipillai RMalou NHopman JBowman CYousef N et al.
J Antimicrob Chemother. 2019 April 10; Volume 1 (Issue 1); dlz002.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has designed context-adapted antibiotic resistance (ABR) responses in countries across the Middle East. There, some health systems have been severely damaged by conflict resulting in delayed access to care, crowded facilities and supply shortages. Microbiological surveillance data are rarely available, but when MSF laboratories are installed we often find MDR bacteria at alarming levels. In MSF’s regional hospital in Jordan, where surgical patients have often had multiple surgeries in field hospitals before reaching definitive care (often four or more), MSF microbiological data analysis reveals that, among Enterobacteriaceae isolates, third-generation cephalosporin and carbapenem resistance is 86.2% and 4.3%, respectively; MRSA prevalence among Staphylococcus aureus is 60.5%; and resistance types and rates are similar in patients originating from Yemen, Syria and Iraq. These trends compel MSF to aggressively prevent and diagnose ABR in Jordan, providing ABR lessons that inform the antibiotic choices, microbiological diagnostics and anti-ABR strategies in other Middle Eastern MSF trauma projects (such as Yemen and Gaza).

As a result, MSF has created a multifaceted, context-adapted, field experience-based, approach to ABR in hospitals in Middle Eastern conflict settings. We focus on three pillars: (1) infection prevention and control (IPC); (2) microbiology and surveillance; and (3) antibiotic stewardship.
Journal Article > CommentaryFull Text
Lancet Infect Dis. 2018 March 5; Volume 18 (Issue 8); e248-e258.
Ombelet SRonat JBWalsh TYansouni CPCox J et al.
Lancet Infect Dis. 2018 March 5; Volume 18 (Issue 8); e248-e258.
Low-resource settings are disproportionately burdened by infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance. Good quality clinical bacteriology through a well functioning reference laboratory network is necessary for effective resistance control, but low-resource settings face infrastructural, technical, and behavioural challenges in the implementation of clinical bacteriology. In this Personal View, we explore what constitutes successful implementation of clinical bacteriology in low-resource settings and describe a framework for implementation that is suitable for general referral hospitals in low-income and middle-income countries with a moderate infrastructure. Most microbiological techniques and equipment are not developed for the specific needs of such settings. Pending the arrival of a new generation diagnostics for these settings, we suggest focus on improving, adapting, and implementing conventional, culture-based techniques. Priorities in low-resource settings include harmonised, quality assured, and tropicalised equipment, consumables, and techniques, and rationalised bacterial identification and testing for antimicrobial resistance. Diagnostics should be integrated into clinical care and patient management; clinically relevant specimens must be appropriately selected and prioritised. Open-access training materials and information management tools should be developed. Also important is the need for onsite validation and field adoption of diagnostics in low-resource settings, with considerable shortening of the time between development and implementation of diagnostics. We argue that the implementation of clinical bacteriology in low-resource settings improves patient management, provides valuable surveillance for local antibiotic treatment guidelines and national policies, and supports containment of antimicrobial resistance and the prevention and control of hospital-acquired infections.