Alert, response, and capacity building under the International Health Regulations (IHR)

Joint WHO-CDC International Conference on Health Laboratory Quality Systems
Lyon, France
9-11 April 2008

Today more than ever, the health community recognizes the importance of quality in health laboratories. Greater demands are made to implement laboratory quality systems and to set up national quality standards in resource limited countries. Examples such as the outbreak of Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and the undiminished threat of avian flu alone have highlighted the critical need for highly accurate and timely diagnostic laboratory testing.

Moreover, the International Health Regulations (2005) require all countries to have the capacity to assess, detect, notify and report public health events to the World Health Organization and to respond to public health risks and emergencies of international concern, supported by accurate and reliable laboratory results, to ensure a timely and effective response.

In response to this challenge, the WHO Lyon Office for National Epidemic Preparedness and Response, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, United States of America, hosted an International Conference on Health Laboratory Quality Systems in Lyon, France, from 9 to 11 April 2008 with approximately 200 experts from all over the world.

The main objectives of this conference were to:

i) help enhance health laboratory quality, which needs to be addressed particularly in resource-limited    settings, and
ii) propose guidance on quality systems development and implementation at national level.

The full meeting report and policy statement on laboratory quality systems published in the
Weekly Epidemiological Record are available at:

Joint WHO-CDC Conference on health laboratory quality systems, 9-11 April 2009, Lyon, France
Weekly epidemiological record No. 32

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