Recent Activities - 2016

November 2016: Second Inter-country Meeting of the Directors of Public Health Laboratories in the Eastern Mediterranean Region

NRL represented by Wayne Dimech, was asked to participate as a Technical Advisor in the Second Intercountry Meeting of the Directors of Public Health Laboratories in the Eastern Mediterranean Region held from 31 October-3 November 2016 in Muscat, Oman. Twenty Directors of 22 countries from the Eastern Mediterranean region attended alongside WHO country officers and representatives from WHO European region, Institute Merieux and a technical advisor from VIDRL. The focus of the meeting was the implementation of the “Eastern Mediterranean Region Strategic Framework for Strengthening Health Laboratory Services 2016-2020”. Wayne Dimech was a facilitator in two Workshops and conducted a presentation on “Laboratory Capacity Building: An Outline of NRL regional activities”.

October 2016: HIV EQAS Training Delivered in Tajikistan

Between 24 October and 11 November 2016, NRL (represented by Wayne Dimech, Susie Braniff and Marlene Tschaepe) travelled to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, for the first visit under a project with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Tajikistan, entitled “Technical assistance for the implementation of External Quality Assessment Schemes for the Republican AIDS Centre HIV/AIDS Laboratory Network”. UNDP Tajikistan had requested NRL to provide training to the Republican AIDS Centre and HIV/AIDS Laboratory Network of Tajikistan, on the provision of and participation in External Quality Assessment Schemes (EQAS) for HIV serology

September 2016: Myanmar FIND Project

NRL concluded its project with the Foundation of Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) with a visit to Myanmar from 19-29 September 2016. During this visit, Marlene Tschaepe and Susie Braniff from NRL conducted training workshops in Mandalay and Yangon, as well as a stakeholder meeting to wrap up the project. NRL’s project with FIND was part of a Cooperative Agreement between FIND and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Two-day HIV Point of Care Testing (POCT) Workshops were held in both Mandalay and Yangon for midwives, lab technicians, township health nurses and medical technicians.

August 2016: WHO HIV and STI Guidelines Dissemination for Asia and the Pacific

On 8-11 August 2016, WHO WPRO conducted a HIV and STI guideline dissemination Workshop for countries from the Asian, Pacific and Eastern Mediterranean regions. The interactive Workshop was aimed at Ministry of Health representatives and affiliate national implementing bodies. Representatives from 20 countries alongside WHO country office personnel were in attendance. Delegates representing major NGOs such as CDC, UNICEF, USAID, Global Fund, TREAT Asia, UNDP, UN, International AIDS Society, MSF and WHO Geneva were also present. NRL was represented by Wayne Dimech.

August 2016: NRL attends Mapping Workshops in Myanmar

Sue Best, Geraldine Kong and Claire Ryan from NRL, as well as Dr Khin Zaw Latt from FIND (the Foundation of Innovative New Diagnostics), attended two high-level meetings in Nay-Pyi-Taw, Myanmar, in the week of 15 August 2016.  The meetings were aimed at facilitating sustainable, long-term outcomes for the project activities under NRL’s sub-contract with FIND, to strengthen the HIV testing and quality management system in Myanmar. The first meeting was a Mapping Workshop on Documentation for the HIV Viral Load Cascade in Myanmar. 

August 2016: Technical Working Group on Product Selection for HIV, HIV-related and Viral Hepatitis IVDs

On 24 and 25 August, NRL staff Kim Wilson and Sue Best participated in the Technical Working Group on Product Selection for HIV, HIV-related and Viral Hepatitis IVDs, which was held at WHO Headquarters, Geneva.  This technical working group was convened to assist WHO in development of guidance for Member States on IVD product selection that mitigates the risks should selected products be unavailable. The objective of the planned guidance is to provide simpler methodology for validation of testing algorithms, and strategies to mitigate the effect of test kit stock-outs.

August 2016: Inter-country Workshop on Capacity Building in the Measles and Rubella Laboratory Network

The World Health Organization (WHO) Southeast Asia Regional Office (SEARO) organised a six day Regional Meeting of Virologists from the Measles and Rubella Laboratory Network, held in Thimphu, Bhutan, from 15-20 August 2016. The meeting brought together 60 participants from laboratories in Bhutan, Bangladesh, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand as well as the WHO Country Office and Headquarters. Susie Braniff from the NRL Training Team conducted a three day workshop as part of the Regional Meeting, which focussed on the implementation of an internal auditing process for continual improvement.

August 2016: Dengue and JEV EQAS Training in Vietnam

Between 15 and 19 August 2016, NRL (represented by Marlene Tschaepe) returned to the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) in Hanoi, Vietnam, to conduct a training workshop for a pilot serology EQAS for Dengue and Japanese Encephalitis (JE) Virus. Thirteen participants from NIHE, two participants from the Institute Pasteur in Ho Chi Minh City (PI-HCMC) and four observers attended the 5 day programme.

July 2016: Myanmar Project

Between 25 and 29 July 2016, NRL conducted its third visit to Myanmar under the sub-contract with the Foundation of Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), to strengthen the laboratory system in Myanmar through training and quality management system implementation.

June 2016: NRL Myanmar Project

Between 6 and 17 June 2016, NRL conducted its second visit to Myanmar under the sub-contract with the Foundation of Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), to strengthen the laboratory system in Myanmar through training and quality management system implementation.  During the visit, NRL (represented by Kim Wilson, Marlene Tschaepe and Susie Braniff) along with FIND (represented by Dr Khin Zaw Latt) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (represented by Dr Ikuma Nozaki and Dr Pyae Phyo Than Cho) conducted site visits of township hospital laboratories and community based Point-of-Care (POC) sites for HIV testing in the Yangon and Mandalay regions.  The site visits provided the opportunity to observe and discuss challenges and improvement opportunities for rapid HIV testing at various levels of the laboratory network and in the community setting in Myanmar.

June 2016: Report on the Scientific Working Group on the Standardisation of Genome Amplification Techniques (SoGAT) 2016

Joe Vincini and Wayne Dimech attended the SoGAT meeting held at the Royal College of Physicians in London between 6 and 8 June 2016.  SoGAT is focused on the standardisation of testing, especially nucleic acid testing for infectious diseases.  The meeting is conducted by the National Institute of Biological Standards and Control, UK.  Presentations ranged from calibration of assays using higher order materials, Standardisation of Point of Care testing, and EQAS/QC reports from several European quality assurance providers.  There was a strong focus on the creation and use of secondary standards.

June 2016: Report on the Canadian Animal Health Laboratorians Network Annual Meeting

NRL’s mission is to promote the quality of tests and testing for infectious diseases globally.  To this end, Liza Cabuang was invited to attend the 15th annual meeting of the Canadian Animal Health Laboratorians Network (CAHLN) in Prince Edward Island on the east coast of Canada between 5 and 8 June 2016. The meeting was held at the Atlantic Veterinary College and had an overall theme: “Collaboration in Veterinary Laboratory Diagnostics and Animal Health”.  NRL’s role was to illustrate the importance of External Quality Assessment Schemes (EQAS) and Quality Control (QC) in human diagnostics and to provide insight into how EQAS providers, laboratories and assay manufacturers can successfully collaborate in the resolution of unusual results.

April-May 2016: WHO International Health Regulation Joint Evaluation in Pakistan

The International Health Regulations (IHR) came into force in June 2007. As part of their IHR commitment, countries have been asked to conduct an assessment of their capabilities to respond to public health emergencies. The multi-sectorial Joint External Evaluation (JEE) tool was developed with the aim that countries would use the tool to conduct an assessment and would then be invited to undergo a formal assessment of their findings.

April 2016: 3rd Annual Meeting of WHO Prequalification of IVDs Dossier Assessors and Inspectors

The World Health Organization (WHO) Prequalification Team for Diagnostics promotes access to safe, affordable and high quality test kits that are suitable for use in resource limited settings. Susie Braniff attended the 3rd Annual Meeting of WHO Prequalification of In Vitro Diagnostics (IVDs) Dossier Assessors and Inspectors that was held in Geneva, Switzerland on the 19-21 of April. The objectives of the meeting included the further improvement of WHO site inspection and dossier assessment procedures as well as review of new guidance material for IVD manufacturers and dossier assessors.

March 2016: NRL Myanmar Project

Between 14 and 25 March 2015, NRL conducted its first visit to Myanmar under the Foundation of Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) sub-contract to strengthen the laboratory system in Myanmar through training and quality management system implementation.  NRL’s sub-contract with FIND is part of a Cooperative Agreement that FIND has with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Building Global Capacity for Diagnostic Testing of Tuberculosis, Malaria, and HIV through Laboratory Strengthening and Integration of Services”, and which falls under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  This project is building upon NRL’s earlier work in Myanmar, with more laboratories participating and a wider scope of activities.

February 2016: NRL Myanmar Project

In February 2016, NRL was awarded a sub-contract by the Foundation of Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), to strengthen the laboratory system in Myanmar through training and quality management system implementation. FIND is a charitable foundation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, whose mission is to support the development and deployment of accurate and affordable diagnostic tests for poverty-related diseases for developing countries. NRL’s sub-contract with FIND is part of a Cooperative Agreement that FIND has with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Building Global Capacity for Diagnostic Testing of Tuberculosis, Malaria, and HIV through Laboratory Strengthening and Integration of Services”, and which falls under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

January 2016: NRL attends the 1st Assembly of the Regional Network in HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine

The 1st Assembly of the Regional Network in HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine held in Bangkok from 15-17 January was attended by Wayne Dimech and Susie Braniff. Holding a Regional Network assembly has been a long pursued goal of the Australian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) as a way to foster links between clinical societies operating in the Asian and Pacific regions.

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NRL is designated a WHO Collaborating Centre for Diagnostics and Laboratory Support for HIV and AIDS and Other Blood-borne Infections