ASM LabCap's contributions to disease surveillance and the International Health Regulations (2005)

Specter, Steven; Schuermann, Lily; Hakiruwizera, Celestin; Keita Sow, Mah-Séré
January 2010
BMC Public Health;Jan2010 Supplement 1, Vol. 10, p1
Academic Journal
The revised International Health Regulations [IHR(2005)], which requires the Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop core capacities to detect, assess, report, and respond to public health threats, is bringing new challenges for national and international surveillance systems. As more countries move toward implementation and/or strengthening of their infectious disease surveillance programs, the strengthening of clinical microbiology laboratories becomes increasingly important because they serve as the first line responders to detect new and emerging microbial threats, re-emerging infectious diseases, the spread of antibiotic resistance, and the possibility of bioterrorism. In fact, IHR(2005) Core Capacity #8, "Laboratory", requires that laboratory services be a part of every phase of alert and response. Public health laboratories in many resource-constrained countries require financial and technical assistance to build their capacity. In recognition of this, in 2006, the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) established an International Laboratory Capacity Building Program, LabCap, housed under the ASM International Board. ASM LabCap utilizes ASM's vast resources and its membership's expertise—40,000 microbiologists worldwide—to strengthen clinical and public health laboratory systems in low and low-middle income countries. ASM LabCap's program activities align with IHR(2005) by building the capability of resource-constrained countries to develop quality-assured, laboratory-based information which is critical to disease surveillance and the rapid detection of disease outbreaks, whether they stem from natural, deliberate or accidental causes. ASM LabCap helps build laboratory capacity under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and under a sub-contract with the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Successful activities of ASM LabCap have occurred throughout Africa, Asia, Central America and the Caribbean. In addition, ASM LabCap coordinates efforts with international agencies such as the WHO in order to maximize resources and ensure a unified response, with the intended goal to help build integrated disease surveillance and response capabilities worldwide in compliance with IHR(2005)'s requirements.


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