Strengthening laboratory capacities in Turkmenistan: training course on molecular identification of influenza

Research Institute of Influenza, Russian Federation/Olga Konshina

As part of the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework Partnership Contribution Implementation Plan 2013–2016 in laboratory and surveillance, a practical training course on molecular identification of influenza was held on 23 March–3 April 2015. The course took place at the WHO-recognized National Influenza Centre at the Research Institute of Influenza, St Petersburg, Russian Federation.

The on-the-job training was organized for 2 laboratory specialists from the National Virology Reference Laboratory in Turkmenistan. The main objectives were to strengthen the National Virology Reference Laboratory's capacities and to provide the specialists with comprehensive laboratory skills for molecular identification of circulating human influenza virus strains.

Molecular identification by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay is currently the primary method for detecting influenza virus in clinical specimen. PCR is widely used in influenza surveillance, making it vital for laboratory specialists involved in surveillance to possess the skills necessary to perform PCR.

The training consisted of theoretical lectures, and practical hands-on techniques and procedures in which laboratory specialists learned to apply these skills, facilitating local and international influenza surveillance. Upon completion of the training course, participants learned the principles of the PCR method and were provided with the skills to:

  • collect and process respiratory specimens
  • perform PCR
  • analyse and interpret results
  • recycle waste
  • apply the principles of laboratory quality management and safety
  • adapt standard operating procedures (SOPs) to local environment
  • create SOPs.

Participants valued that the training was conducted with the same reagents, materials and equipment used at the National Virology Reference Laboratory, and that the training was held in Russian.