Polio laboratory network
The most important strategies for eradication of polio are the immunization of every child under 5 years of age and having a strong surveillance system to rapidly detect cases of poliomyelitis when they arise. Nationwide AFP (acute flaccid paralysis) surveillance is the gold standard for detecting cases of poliomyelitis and the polio laboratory network is a critical component of this surveillance to distinguish polio as a cause of AFP from diseases other than poliovirus.
The global polio laboratory network consists of 145 accredited laboratories in a three tier structure, serving all WHO Member States. National laboratories follow standardized procedures for detecting polioviruses from stool samples collected from AFP cases, and use regional reference labs to confirm whether any polioviruses detected are wild or may have originated from live oral polio vaccine (OPV). All wild polioviruses detected are referred to one of the seven global labs specializing in sequencing, to monitor virus transmission patterns. All laboratories are continually monitored for their adherence to quality indicators and have annual accreditation assessments.