National influenza centres

National influenza centres (NICs) are institutions responsible for the laboratory surveillance of influenza. They are designated by national ministries of health and formally recognized by WHO for the purpose of participating in the work of the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS).

Since adoption of the World Health Assembly Resolution 64.5 in May 2011, the Terms of Reference (TOR) for NICs comprises the handling of:

  • seasonal influenza viruses and other non-pandemic influenza preparedness (PIP) biological materials; and
  • PIP biological materials.

The latter  is described in the "Pandemic influenza preparedness framework for the sharing of influenza viruses and access to vaccines and other benefits" (the PIP Framework).

Recognition and annual assessment

The process of recognition as an NIC involves an on-site assessment by WHO/Europe using a standardized laboratory assessment tool based on the WHO NIC TOR and basic standards for laboratory quality, as described in the document: "How to become a WHO-recognized National Influenza Centre: Guidance on the process for influenza laboratories in the WHO European Region".

An NIC recognized by WHO will maintain direct working relations with the WHO Global Influenza Programme and the WHO collaborating centres for reference and research on influenza, and will comply with the NIC TOR. WHO/Europe monitors compliance with the TOR and reassesses the performance of each recognized institution every year to determine whether it can retain its NIC status.

As of 2014, there are 52 NICs in 41 Member States of the WHO European Region. Globally, 141 NICs in 111 countries participate in the GISRS.