LABORATORY SUPPORT FOR COMMUNICABLE

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SECRETARIAT OF THE PACIFIC COMMUNITY (SPC) Noumea, New Caledonia Suva, Fiji Islands

NEWS RELEASE April 21, 2000

DISEASE CONTROL IN PACIFIC

The structure of a regional network of public health laboratories was established by health professionals at the Inaugural meeting of the Public Health Laboratory Network, which aims to improve the recognition and control of epidemics in the Pacific region.

The technical meeting, jointly sponsored by SPC and WHO, was held on 19 and 20 April at SPC Headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia. Participants were laboratory specialists and health department representatives from Fiji, Guam, New Caledonia (Pasteur Institute) and French Polynesia (Malardé Institute).

Representatives of New Zealand, Australian and the United States laboratories also took part, together with observers from regional organizations.

The following diseases are targeted by the public health laboratory network: measles, dengue, influenza, leptospirosis, cholera and typhoid.

Three levels of public health laboratory services are envisioned.

Level-1 laboratories include national and sub-national laboratories throughout the Pacific. They will serve as the frontline for public health laboratory investigations, including specimen collection and handling, and the field testing of specimens.

These laboratories will be supported by level-2 laboratories for any biological diagnosis requiring more complicated laboratory techniques. These level-2 laboratories have actively participated in this technical meeting. They include institutions in Fiji, Guam, New Caledonia, New Zealand, and French Polynesia. These laboratories will offer their diagnostic services and assist all Pacific islands in public health case investigations.

Larger level-3 reference laboratories within and beyond the Pacific Rim will support these in turn, when necessary.

Other important issues discussed during the meeting included the safe transportation of biological products and laboratory quality assurance, training of staff and ethics and legal issues.

For more information, please contact:

Mina Vilayleck Surveillance Information Officer Secretariat of the Pacific Community Tel: 687 26 20 00 Direct Line: 687 26 01 81 E-mail: Minav@spc.int 

Sarah Langi English Editor Secretariat of the Pacific Community BP D5 98848 Noumea Cedex New Caledonia Tel +687 26 01 96 SarahL@spc.org.nc 

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