WHO continues to capacitate Member States in shipment of biological and infectious items: 84 more specialists trained in 2015


In 2015, WHO/Europe, together with WHO country offices in Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro and Uzbekistan, conducted a series of WHO Infectious Substances Shippers Trainings (ISST) as part of the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework Partnership Contribution Implementation Plan 2013–2016 in the area of laboratory and surveillance, and as part of the Better Labs for Better Health initiative.

84 specialists from national, regional and reference laboratories representing a diverse pool of specialists attended the trainings in Yerevan, Armenia; Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; Podgorica, Montenegro; and Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Participants practiced package assembly and completed shipping documentation.

The ISST courses consisted of face-to-face interactive lectures, short presentations, demonstrations, a hands-on activity, and question and answer sessions followed by a final examination. The course was divided into modules addressing:

  • classification
  • documentation
  • marking and labelling
  • packaging
  • preparation of shipments requiring the use of dry ice.

Participants who scored higher than 80% in the final exam were certified to perform international shipping of infectious substances. Certificates are valid for 24 months and are recognized by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Air Transport Association. The trainings contributed to building national capacities needed to strengthen risk assessment and response programmes, and fulfil obligations under the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework and the International Health Regulations.


Thousands of specimens containing infectious substances are shipped every day around the world. Shippers are from diverse backgrounds and industries including diagnostic and research laboratories, health care facilities, the pharmaceutical industry, etc.

To ensure compliance with applicable regulations that protect staff, the public and the environment, the transport of infectious substances is strictly regulated and training is required. The goal of the trainings was to strengthen local workforce capacity to properly ship infectious substances within country borders and internationally to minimize the risk of exposure.