Laboratory Capacity Assessments

APHL and CDC have partnered to offer voluntary laboratory capacity assessments to international influenza laboratories spanning the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS). During the assessments, influenza subject matter experts (SMEs) observe laboratory operations capturing information used to guide laboratories in capacity building, enhancing influenza surveillance and achieve, or maintain, a National Influenza Centers (NIC) designation.

To capture the information from the assessments and allow the assessor to identify strengths and determine recommendations for influenza laboratory practice improvement, APHL and CDC developed the International Influenza Laboratory Capacity Review Tool with a quantitative analysis. The tool analyzes assessment data in a standardized manner, measures changes over time and provides an objective way to aggregate data regionally, or globally, to understand specific gaps and training opportunities.

Since the program began in 2009, over 35 countries have been assessed using the tool. The information generated from the tool and the quantitative analysis assist countries with demonstrating compliance with the NIC terms of reference and the International Health Regulations expectations, strategically target funds and improve their laboratory influenza surveillance system.

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Photo Credit: CDC’s Influenza Division

Training Workshops

APHL coordinates regional training workshops to support laboratories around the world. Trainings are typically held regionally and may be didactic or hands-on in a wet training laboratory. Courses are tailored to specific regional needs, which may have been previously identified through laboratory capacity assessments. Past topics have included Influenza Laboratory Management and Advanced Influenza Real-time RT-PCR Workshops.

Southeastern European Quality Assurance Mentoring

In 2015, CDC, APHL, WHO Euro and the South East European Center of Infectious Diseases Surveillance and Control (SECID) held a kick-off meeting in Tirana, Albania to establish a quality assurance mentoring program. The program pairs experienced APHL consultants with national influenza laboratories to help them reach National Influenza Centers requirements and systematically implement a quality monitoring system that can be applied beyond influenza testing.

APHL has four mentors assigned to six different laboratories. The association also has partnered with the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the KIT to sponsor training of regional mentors. This pool of local mentors will be able to reach additional countries in the region. They bring a strong understanding of local resources that can be tapped as laboratories work to strengthen QMS.

APHL's quality assurance mentoring program partners include:

• CDC Influenza Division Extramural Influenza Program
• WHO European Office
• KIT
• Southeast European Center for Surveillance and Control of Infectious Diseases
• National Institute of Public Health of Kosovo
• Institute of Public Health, Macedonia
• Institute of Public Health, Montenegro
• Institute of Public Health, Albania
• Public Health Institute of the Republic of Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina
• University Clinical Centre - Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegonia

Mentors share example standard operation procedure (SOP) templates and other example documents with assigned mentee countries and other countries in the region. The laboratories are using the WHO Laboratory Quality Stepwise Implementation (LQSI) tool to help guide the development of quality management systems (QMS).

APHL and CDC partnered with the WHO Regional Office for Europe and KIT to sponsor training of regional mentors. This pool of local mentors will be able to reach additional countries in the region. They bring a strong understanding of local resources that can be tapped as laboratories work to strengthen QMS.

More Information

For more information contact, Stephanie Chester, MS, manager, Influenza Program, 240.485.2740, stephanie.chester@aphl.org.