How the Better Labs for Better Health initiative improves laboratories

Better Labs for Better Health is an intersectoral initiative that involves collaborative activities with Member States and sharing of best practices in order to:

  • develop national laboratory policies and strategic plans;
  • improve national training programmes and implement quality management systems;
  • upgrade critical infrastructure such as teaching laboratories and external quality assessment programmes.

Since 2012, WHO/Europe has worked with Member States to establish intersectoral national laboratory working groups (NLWGs), with the involvement of partners, in order to develop national laboratory policies and strategies. International partners were also the target audience of the first Better Labs for Better Health partners meeting in 2014, as were eight Member States, nongovernmental organizations, foundations and donors, to achieve consensus on the direction of the Better Labs for Better Health initiative.

Among other collaborative activities since implemented as routine, NLWGs hold regular meetings to take forward the Better Labs for Better Health objectives, discuss laboratory-related activities, provide advice at the national level, and identify synergies with other lab-related initiatives.

In addition, analysis of national training requirements has identified training on Laboratory Quality Management Systems (LQMS) as a priority, with a focus on Laboratory Quality Stepwise Implementation and mentoring.

The Better Labs for Better Health initiative operates within the WHO framework, applying WHO methodologies and tools, and working with other WHO initiatives wherever appropriate. Examples of this are collaboration with the Control of Antimicrobial Resistance programme and training on use of the LQMS manual. The initiative also works with the following WHO programmes: International Health Regulations; Influenza and other Respiratory Pathogens; Vaccine-preventable Diseases and Immunization; Joint Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis; Alert and Response Operations; and Food Safety.