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 the sharing of best practices in order to:

  • strengthen national laboratory systems;
  • improve laboratory management;
  • establish networks for preparedness and response; and
  • advocate for and establish leadership for change and partnerships.

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. Once endorsed by a Member State, these documents form the foundation for national action plans and identify priority actions.

The activities then implemented in those Member States working with the Better Labs for Better Health initiative cover all identified priority actions, such as laboratory regulations, specimen referral systems and quality management.

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

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 include collaboration with the control of antimicrobial resistance programme and training on use of the laboratory quality management system manual.

The initiative also works with the following WHO programmes: International Health Regulations; high-threat pathogens; vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization; tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis; alert and response operations; and food safety.