Armenia hosts WHO Infectious Substances Shipping Training for national influenza centres

Twenty-five laboratory specialists achieved certification as infectious substances shippers after attending WHO’s Infectious Substances Shippers Training (ISST) in Yerevan, Armenia, on 30 May–1 June 2017.
In the interest of global public health, human and animal specimens must be transported safely, promptly, efficiently and legally from the place where they are collected to the place where they will be analysed. Regardless of the presumed infection status of the patient, specimens must be packaged and transported in such a way as to protect those engaged in transportation from the risk of infection.

The WHO ISST course provides participants with the necessary degree of familiarity with applicable requirements. It addresses identification, classification, packaging, marking, labelling, refrigeration and required documentation for the transport of infectious substances.

Only participants scoring at least 80% in the final test receive certification, which is valid for 24 months. After this period, participants can renew their credentials through the online refresher course. WHO ISST certification is recognized by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Air Transport Association.
The trainees who attended the course in Yerevan came from 13 countries in the WHO European Region: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. They included 15 influenza laboratory experts from national influenza centres and 10 representatives from the countries’ public health microbiology laboratories and national reference centres.

WHO/Europe’s high-threat pathogens team provided the training in collaboration with WHO headquarters and the WHO Country Office in Armenia. It was supported by funds received through the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework Partnership Contribution.


To ensure compliance with applicable regulations that protect staff, the public and the environment, the transport of infectious substances is strictly regulated and training is required. The goal of the ISST is to strengthen capacity of members of the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System in the Region to properly ship infectious substances within country borders and internationally to minimize the risk of exposure.