Regional Training Workshop of Laboratory Staff for IATA licensing for transportation of infectious substances
24 to 26 July 2012
Implementation of the Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases (APSED) over the past five years has led to considerable progress in the Western Pacific Region in the development and strengthening of the required core capacities to manage and respond to emerging disease threats. Building on this progress and learning from experiences in implementing the APSED, an updated strategy, APSED (2010), was developed. APSED (2010) contains eight focus areas,* including developing and strengthening laboratory capacity in the Region. In line with APSED (2010), the Asia Pacific Region also adopted the Asia Pacific Strategy for Strengthening Health Laboratory Services (2010-2015) to assist Member States in providing comprehensive laboratory services to contribute to improved health outcomes.
Efficient and reliable health laboratory services are an essential and fundamental component of any health system that aims to respond effectively to emerging infectious diseases. APSED (2010) includes the following strategic actions for building laboratory capacity:
- strengthen laboratory support and participation in emerging diseases or public health event surveillance, risk assessment and response systems;
- ensure effective laboratory referral systems through strengthening national, regional and international laboratory networking and coordination with other laboratory services (such as animal and food laboratories) and highly specialized laboratory services; and
- strengthen laboratory biosafety activities to ensure diagnoses of emerging diseases are conducted in safe environments.
The ability to properly package and transport specimens to reference laboratories is a key component of these strategic actions. The laboratory focus area of APSED (2010) includes the development of laboratory networks for identification of outbreak etiology and the establishment of both in-country and external quality assurance programmes. These areas of work include the air shipment of biological specimens. Shipping of biological specimens both within countries and internationally to reference laboratories is regulated by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Regulations require that shippers be licensed in the shipping of dangerous goods through specific training (and subsequent passing of an examination) that is conducted by an IATA-accredited trainer. Licenses must be renewed every two years.
At the end of the workshop, participants will have:
- gained a solid understanding of IATA regulations governing the packing and shipment of infectious substances, improved packaging practices resulting in the decrease incidence of airline refusals to accept specimens for shipment, and received licensing as "Shipper of Dangerous Goods Specialization in Infectious Substances – Division 6.2"; and
- improved biosafety and biosecurity practices in the shipment of infectious substances.