Visit to assess the capacity of the national influenza laboratory in Tajikistan

On 10–14 April 2017 a WHO technical team of 5 performed an on-site assessment of the National Influenza Laboratory in Dushanbe at the State Sanitary Epidemiological Surveillance Service of Tajikistan’s Ministry of Health. The assessment identified the steps necessary for the laboratory to obtain formal WHO recognition as a national influenza centre (NIC).

NICs are national institutions designated by national health ministries and recognized by WHO. Among other duties, they collect clinical samples and identify influenza viruses, making it possible for WHO to monitor the influenza season each year and make vaccine recommendations.

In the WHO European Region, NICs serve as a key technical resource and reference point for national authorities in the laboratory surveillance of influenza. Through the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) they contribute to the implementation of the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) Framework and participate in Flu News Europe, the weekly influenza update jointly produced by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the WHO Regional Office for Europe.

In parallel with the assessment, training was held for virologists from the National Influenza Laboratory to strengthen virological surveillance of influenza by enhancing the capacity of the laboratory’s staff to perform molecular identification of circulating human influenza viruses.

The assessment and training were part of a WHO programme under the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework Partnership Contribution Implementation Plan.