European Tuberculosis Laboratory Initiative (ELI) Core Group members meeting, 30 November 2016, and joint ELI-Better Labs for Better Health meeting, Tbilisi, Georgia, 1–2 December 2016

The European Tuberculosis Laboratory Initiative (ELI) aims to strengthen tuberculosis (TB) laboratory capacity in the WHO European Region, with a particular focus on the 18 countries in the Region in which addressing TB is a high priority. The first meeting of the renewed ELI Core Group, held on 25 February 2016 in Copenhagen, Denmark, reached a consensus on three ELI priority areas and specific objectives.

The Second 2016 European TB Laboratory Initiative (ELI) Core Group Members Meeting took place on 30 November in Tbilisi, Georgia with the support of USAID. On 1 and 2 December, the ELI core group and ELI members met partners of the Better Labs for Better Health initiative for a joint meeting.  In total, more than 60 participants from over 20 countries in the Region took part in the meeting as well as representatives of various organizations and initiatives including WHO headquarters, the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the WHO Georgia Country Office, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FIND Diagnostics and the European Reference Laboratory Network for TB of the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

The objectives of the ELI Core Group meeting were to finalize the regional diagnostic algorithm and to strengthen aspects of laboratory maintenance and the quality management system. The regional laboratory diagnostic algorithm was approved by all members of the ELI Core Group and the representative from the WHO headquarters Global Laboratory Initiative. The ELI laboratory maintenance plan was presented and discussed during both the Core Group meeting and the joint ELI members and Better Labs for Better Health partners meeting. During both meetings the plan was declared necessary and useful for improving laboratory maintenance and the ELI was encouraged to finalize it.

In summary, the objectives of the meeting were reached as follows:

  • all ELI Core Group members signed off the regional laboratory diagnostic algorithm;
  • the ELI maintenance plan was discussed by the Core Group members and presented to ELI members and Better Labs for Better Health partners; feedback and suggestions were collected for incorporation into the plan;
  • the latest WHO-recommended TB diagnostic tools were presented;
  • a platform was provided for the ELI core group and ELI members to meet Better Labs for Better Health members and partners to exchange knowledge and experience.