Following recent significant crises (Covid-19, Ebola, Influenza variants, antimicrobial resistance, etc.), retrospective analyses have shown that the weakness of laboratory systems (including appropriate sample transportation) was one of the causes of the lack of control over the epidemic faced by most countries.
Implementation of a simple, reliable and cost-effective laboratory network is not an easy task. It requires strong involvement of all laboratory actors, such as human and veterinary laboratories, food and water labs, universities, research institutes, and associated authorities and ministries.
The involved parties must have a requisite level of knowledge and expertise in:
- Strategy development, coordination, regulations, norms and standards, audits and inspections
- National unified sample transportation system
- National laboratory programs for quality management and biosafety management, External Quality Assessment (EQA) schemes, distribution of reference materials and procedures, national guidelines and documentation
- National laboratory equipment management plan, including maintenance, validation and calibration
- Staff training, competency assessment, continuous training/refreshing
- Maintenance of the laboratory network over time