NEW YORK – The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics announced on Tuesday that it has received a $3.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to optimize diagnostic networks in low- and middle-income countries.
The grant will enable FIND to scale up diagnostic network optimization, or DNO, activities in 15 low- and middle-income countries in the next three years, the nonprofit said in a statement. DNO is a geospatial network analytics approach to planning diagnostic networks consistent with national health goals and strategies, according to a guidance document released by FIND.
A key component of those DNO activities is the launch and scale-up of OptiDx, a tool that is designed to improve access to diagnostics services, increase network efficiency, optimize resource use, and enable better network visualization, FIND said.
The tool uses national data to create a model of a country's current diagnostic network, helping to create and compare different scenarios or alternative network designs to determine the best approach for a country to improve access, equity, and cost-efficiency for diagnostic testing.
FIND successfully completed a pilot of OptiDx in four countries for tuberculosis, HIV, human papillomavirus, and COVID-19, the nonprofit said. Learnings from the scale-up of the tool will be shared with the broader diagnostic optimization community, it added.
A steering committee, made up of FIND, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the US Agency for International Development, will guide the tool's implementation.
"In too many instances, patients are unable to access life-saving testing in a timely manner, while diagnostic equipment is either under-used or over-subscribed, leading to wasted resources — just because it is not located where patients need it," Heidi Albert, head of FIND South Africa and DNO lead at FIND, said in a statement. "DNO is gaining momentum as a critical approach that uses data to optimize diagnostic systems and improve access to tests."
The new funding "allows our consortium to take the OptiDx tool to the next level, as well as building out the body of evidence on DNO for the community at large," Albert added.