Strengthening health security by implementing the International Health Regulations (2005)


Laboratory issues for epidemiologists

Epidemiology and laboratory medicine are two disciplines that are closely interrelated. However, they are not always optimally connected on a functional and organizational level.

In order to improve collaboration between these two disciplines, in 2002 WHO met with its partners in the global Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET) to identify the possible reasons for this lack of cohesion.

During this workshop, it was identified that Field Epidemiologists may not always fully understand the laboratory’s role and limitations in support of field investigations; this can lead to a breakdown in communications, with frustrations both on the part of the epidemiologist and the laboratory specialist.

After the workshop, a smaller working group was established to design a training module to help address these training gaps. This working group included experts in epidemiology, laboratory and training from the following organizations: the European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training (EPIET), Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) - India, Institut Pasteur, Ministry of Health (MoH) - Thailand, the Public Health Agency of Canada (Canadian Field Epidemiology Program), and WHO India. The result of this global collaboration is before you in the shape of a training package designed to provide Field Epidemiologists with basic laboratory training as it pertains to field investigations.

The content of the training module

This CD-ROM contains a basic set of training materials and recommendations to help trainers organize their training session on "Laboratory issues for Epidemiologists" (Lab for Epi). It is intended for classroom use, not for self-directed learning. It is meant as a guide, not a final training package, as we recognize that trainers should adapt the curriculum to meet local needs. To maximize learning for the trainees, facilitators must have the appropriate training and expertise in each subject area.

The main objectives of the training module

  • facilitate communication and understanding between the two disciplines of epidemiology and laboratory medicine;
  • provide the Field Epidemiologist with a better understanding of basic microbiology techniques and analysis and interpretation of results.

Convey the laboratory perspective of public health investigations to field epidemiologists in order to improve collaboration between these two disciplines and to enhance the quality of field investigations as well as day-to-day interaction.

Contact us

The CD-rom version of this training program can be requested by sending e-mail to