New collaborating centre for laboratory strengthening – KIT Biomedical Research

The Netherlands’ KIT Biomedical Research is to become a WHO collaborating centre for laboratory strengthening for a period of 4 years starting in 2014. KIT stands for Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen, which means Royal Tropical Institute. The Amsterdam-based institute dates back to 1910 and is an independent centre of expertise in international and intercultural cooperation. KIT Biomedical Research specializes in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases and will support WHO/Europe in strengthening laboratories across the Region.

High-quality, reliable laboratory services are a key element of good public health, providing a foundation for:

  • evidence-based disease control (including outbreaks);
  • robust surveillance;
  • early and correct treatment of patients.

WHO/Europe launched the Better Labs for Better Health project in collaboration with KIT in 2012, focusing on Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Republic of Moldova and Uzbekistan. KIT also led the initiative, supported by WHO, to develop an online "LSQI-tool", which guides medical laboratories worldwide towards implementation of a quality management system according to the globally accepted standard ISO 15189. The new designation as a collaborating centre allows KIT to carry out projects in support of WHO programmes.

Supporting medical laboratories all over the world

KIT Biomedical Research is the third WHO collaborating centre within KIT, alongside the Leptospirosis Research Group and Human Resources for Health. It joins more than 700 highly regarded academic and scientific institutions in 80 Member States that have been designated as WHO collaborating centres. However, it is unique in working not on one specific disease, but on supporting medical laboratories all over the world.

The new collaborating centre will be headed up by Dr Linda Oskam. Speaking of the news she said: “This recognition as a WHO collaborating centre means a lot to us. It proves to the world that our expertise has value. We directly support policy-makers, managers and laboratory staff in countries as different as Uzbekistan and Uganda, but aim to share our acquired knowledge and experiences with colleagues everywhere.”

Dr Caroline Brown of WHO said: “We are delighted to have KIT Biomedical Research as a WHO collaborating centre. KIT has a distinguished history as an institution as well as a great track record of working with WHO and we look forward to working together on this vital issue.”