Expanded programme on immunization

Fifth Meeting on Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Laboratory Networks and Poliovirus Biorisk Management Training in the Western Pacific Region - Measles and Rubella Network Meeting

27-28 May 2015, Manila, Philippines

The Fifth Meeting on Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Laboratory Networks and Poliovirus Biorisk Management Training in the Western Pacific Region was held in Manila, the Philippines from 25 to 30 May 2015 to review the performance and identify the challenges of the polio and measles/rubella network laboratories in the Region and to hold a four-day training to implement biorisk management for laboratories holding wild and oral polio vaccine (OPV)/Sabin poliovirus materials.

The Laboratory Networks meeting reviewed ways to strengthen the performance of network laboratories and also to monitor implementation of recommendations from the fourth vaccine-preventable diseases laboratory networks meeting in 2013. The meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss ways to improve the quality and timeliness of laboratory testing among network laboratories including the subnational laboratories in China.

A two-day session of the regional measles and rubella laboratory network was organized to review progress, identify challenges and develop plans to strengthen the performance of network laboratories including molecular capacity in support of measles and rubella elimination. The session included presentations on global and regional measles and rubella elimination initiatives, quality assurance, enhancing molecular surveillance, strengthening rubella virus surveillance and the role of the laboratory, strengthening rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) surveillance, data management, country reports and strengthening laboratory management.

The meeting concluded that measles and rubella network laboratories have helped in working towards the regional goal of measles and rubella elimination. The laboratories have confirmed suspected cases and identified measles and rubella virus genotypes circulating in the Region. The LabNet has played a critical role in the recent verification of measles elimination of seven Member States by confirming that measles cases found in these countries are imported rather than due to endemic circulation. The network consists of one global specialized laboratory (GSL) in Japan, three regional reference laboratories (RRLs) in Australia, China and Hong Kong SAR (China), 14 fully functional national measles and rubella laboratories, 31 provincial and 331 prefectural laboratories in China, and three new subnational laboratories in Malaysia and Viet Nam. Among 49 laboratories for which WHO conducted on-site reviews for accreditation, 48 laboratories are fully accredited as of March 2015. One laboratory with pending accreditation status needs to complete the confirmatory testing.

As the role of the measles and rubella laboratory network also extends to molecular surveillance for confirming and maintaining verification of measles elimination, laboratories with virus isolation, molecular diagnostics and sequencing capabilities were encouraged to perform virus detection, sequencing and genotyping. Genotype and sequence information for measles are submitted to the WHO sequence database for measles, MeaNS, and rubella sequences can be submitted to the database for rubella, RubeNS, as soon as it is available. Genotype data on recent measles virus strains are available from all countries except the Pacific island countries.

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