Tuberculosis: WHO supports eastern European countries in improving laboratory testing safety

To improve subregional capacity for early diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB), WHO Europe conducted training on the operation and maintenance of biosafety cabinets. Biosafety cabinets are a protected laboratory workspace where contaminated (or potentially contaminated) materials can be handled safely. Technicians and engineers from Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine attended the training in Tbilisi, Georgia on 29 August–6 September 2017.

Early diagnosis of TB and universal drug-susceptibility testing, including the use of rapid laboratory tests, is crucial for providing patients with appropriate treatment. The proper functioning and maintenance of biosafety cabinets is essential to ensure high safety levels when conducting testing as well as the quality of test results. However, the lack of qualified and trained technical personnel that can provide maintenance services for biosafety cabinets is a major challenge that hinders countries across eastern Europe in ensuring early diagnosis of TB.

Two officially nominated participants from each of the invited countries attended the training and successfully passed both a theoretical and a practical examination. This training follows a similar approach to a previous course organized for participants from Armenia, Belarus and the Republic of Moldova, in Yerevan, Armenia, in autumn 2016.