Member States share data at Measles and Rubella Laboratory Network meeting in Slovakia

WHO/Europe’s meeting on strengthening the WHO European Regional Network of Measles and Rubella Reference Laboratories was held from 15 - 17 June 2011, at the Conference Centre of the Ministry of Health in Bratislava, Slovakia. It was organized jointly by the WHO Country Office, Slovakia and the Slovak Ministry of Health. The meeting brought together representatives from the Measles and Rubella Reference Laboratories from 37 Member States in the European Region.

The goals of this meeting were to:

  • Exchange information on recent progress made towards the European measles and rubella elimination goal;
  • Share data on laboratory-based surveillance and genotyping data, as well as on performance of the network laboratories;
  • Provide a platform to share experiences, recent developments in laboratory diagnostic methods and to discuss challenges of the network.

At the meeting, participants exchanged information on the recent progress made by their respective countries aimed at implementing WHO/Europe’s strategy to eliminate measles and rubella in Europe. Despite noting some operational and financial difficulties, Member States' laboratory presentations clearly showed that they paid maximum attention to the elimination programme, quality of laboratory surveillance data, laboratory performance and genotyping information. However, despite the commitment of the laboratory network, the measles and rubella programme is facing big challenges in terms of outbreaks occurring at the moment.

Dr Mick Mulders, coordinator of the Measles and Rubella Laboratory Network in the WHO European Region, provided WHO global and regional updates on the elimination programme and surveillance data, including genotype, as well as information from the Global and Regional Reference Laboratories on the performance of WHO network laboratories.

Dr Ján Porubský, Deputy Minister of Health, Slovakia, gave an opening address which informed about the situation of communicable diseases in Slovakia. He highlighted the work of WHO/Europe in their systemic efforts to eliminate and eradicate communicable diseases, and pointed out that following WHO guidelines, Slovakia had a long-term tradition in surveillance and vaccination of preventable communicable diseases, including measles and rubella, and at present there was a very low incidence of both diseases.