It all began at a local level, when a pioneer of preventive medicine and industrial virology from Lyon, Charles Mérieux, came to the conclusion that no aid work was possible without logistics support.
However, at that time,
there was no training available and the logistics profession did not even exist. The idea spread nationwide, then internationally when he set up Bioforce in 1983, the only training centre in France offering courses for future humanitarian logistics experts. It marked the beginning of a great adventure, which saw Bioforce expand its range of training courses as the status of humanitarian work gained in professional recognition.
BIRTH OF BIOFORCE
In 1974, Doctor Charles Mérieux led an unprecedented vaccination campaign, saving 90 million Brazilians from African meningitis in just a few months. He observed that the success of such an undertaking relied just as much on effective organisation, in particular logistics, as on the medical intervention itself.Upon his return, and for almost ten years, Doctor Charles Mérieux kept reflecting on his ideas, developing contacts at every level – in ministries, regional authorities, humanitarian and UN organisations, with scientific and political key figures.
He persuaded the then Secretary of State for Defence, Charles Hernu, and the first President of the Rhône-Alpes region, Charles Béraudier, of the importance of these ideas, and lay the foundations for a project which at the time was known as the ‘three Charles project’: and that is how Bioforce came into being in 1983. In October 1983, the very first students began their course to become ‘development officers, specialised in third world issues’. Qualified as an association for common good since 1986, Bioforce has since then supported humanitarian work by developing effective professional skills.
Gérard David, first director of Bioforce
Presentation of Bioforce to the wives of Heads of State at the G7 meeting (1996)
First students at the regional Bioforce training centre for Africa (1997)
Selection test for diploma courses candidates in the 80s
Charles Mérieux and Jean-Baptiste Richardier (right), founder of Handicap International
First students at the regional Bioforce training centre for Europe in 1983