Disease-specific laboratory services

WHO/Europe coordinates activities related to pathogen analysis through the global Especially Dangerous Pathogens Laboratory Network (EDPLN). It also establishes ad hoc networks when needed, for example, the severe acute respiratory syndrome laboratory network and reference laboratories for the 2014 outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa.

The laboratory quality tools produced by WHO/Europe and the many training sessions it runs each year on related topics are important components of this work. WHO/Europe also provides support for biorisk management and coordinates activities with European Union laboratory networks. For relevant diseases, it conducts joint activities with animal health laboratories.

Key activities undertaken with the laboratory networks include:

  • surveillance, preparedness and response to outbreaks;
  • annual meetings to share disease-specific guidelines and tools as well as information on appropriate laboratory technologies and best practices in the WHO European Region;
  • annual accreditation of national poliomyelitis (polio) and measles/rubella reference laboratories;
  • external quality assessment programmes and trainings;
  • support for integration and/or coordination of disease-specific laboratories with other laboratory activities in countries;
  • WHO recognition of national influenza centres, and advocacy, resource mapping and coordination of their mobilization to strengthen the laboratory systems of the Region.