Transportation of infectious substances: fortifying national capacities in Republic of Moldova

WHO/S. Marchenko

An ongoing capacity-building process regarding the transportation of infectious substances is taking place with WHO support in the Republic of Moldova. The process is part of the broader context of the strengthening of core capacities under the International Health Regulations. A working group was established at the level of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection. The objective of the working group is to revise and adjust the national guidelines on infectious substances transportation and related standard operational procedures (SOPs) based on the WHO Guidance on regulations for the transport of infectious substances (2017–2018).

On 4 August 2017, the members of the working group met to discuss the updated national guidelines on infectious substances transportation and SOPs. In the context of the current public health reform agenda of the Republic of Moldova and in accordance with the National Public Health Strategy 2014–2020 and its Action Plan, the public health laboratory network has been regionalized. Thus, in 2016, the number of district laboratories (34) was decreased to 10 regional centres of excellence. The entire reform process requires revision of procedures and working mechanisms, especially related to infectious substances and sample collection, and transportation from health-care institutions to the regional centers of excellence and national reference laboratories.

From paper to action

The revised guidelines and SOPs were shared with specialists from both public health and veterinary laboratories from both banks of the Nistru River, and were discussed during a training course on requirements for transportation of infectious materials held on 5–7 September 2017 in Tiraspol. The tailored session was dedicated to SOPs on packaging, transportation and storage of infectious samples, and materials developed by the working group.

A training course on requirements for transportation of infectious substances was organized for 26 laboratory managers and specialists, and representatives of the Center of Hygiene and Epidemiology, and veterinary service laboratories from the left bank of the Nistru River.

The main achievements of the training course included:

  • an updated national guide on transportation of infectious substances in line with the guidelines and regulations of the United Nations, WHO and other international organizations;
  • improved knowledge, taking into consideration best practices and experience in the areas of:
    • new definitions used in infectious substances shipping;
    • categorization of infectious substances and packaging requirements for shipping;
    • marking and labelling on infectious substances shipping containers;
    • documentation needed for international shipping of infectious substances; refrigeration methods during infectious substances shipping;
  • updated SOPs that will be implemented in order to improve transportation procedures in both public health and veterinarian laboratories.

The training was provided by the Better Labs for Better Health initiative and WHO/Europe’s Health Emergencies Programme in collaboration with the WHO Country Office in the Republic of Moldova.

WHO support for this activity is included in the Biennial Collaborative Agreement between the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Moldova and WHO/Europe. The initiative is funded by the European Union programme “Support to Confidence Building Measures” and coordinated by WHO, under technical assistance and capacity-building activities in the health sector.