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The TB TEchnical Assistance Mechanism

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Organization name:Supranational Reference Laboratory (Argentina)
Organization type:Academic/Research institution
Description:The TB Supranational Reference Laboratory Network (SRLN) was created in 1994 in order to
support the WHO-IUATLD Global Project on TB drug resistance surveillance. The objectives of
the Global Project are to estimate the magnitude of drug resistance globally, determine trends
and provide data to inform WHO policy decisions. Core principles of the Global Project are to
ensure accurate and representative sampling of the populations under study, allow for the
differentiation of new and previously treated cases and ensure that laboratory results are
quality assured. Originally, fourteen laboratories volunteered to form the SRL Network based on institutional capacity and own resources to support the Global Project. This resulted in a concentration of the SRLs in Europe.

The original terms of reference required that each of the SRLs had a permanent functional TB
laboratory providing quality culture and drug susceptibility testing (DST), with a commitment to support at least two countries with DST proficiency testing (PT), to provide external quality assurance during drug resistance surveys, and to provide training on culture and DST in relevant countries as needed. Between 1994 and 2009, the SRLN was expanded to 29 laboratories, largely driven by regional initiatives and institutional interest in joining the network.

The SRLN continues to be the backbone of the Global Drug Resistance Surveillance Project;
however; given the pressing need for scaling up laboratory services an expanded focus for SRL
activities is urgently needed. Despite being a great technical resource for laboratory scale-up
and capacity development, the SRLN is generally under-utilised, largely due to a crucial lack of
funding and human resource capacity. While there is a skewed concentration of SRLs in Europe
there are only three SRLs in Africa, where the need for laboratory strengthening is most pressing.

In addition, very few SRLs are linked to francophone and lusophone-countries.
The vast majority of technical assistance provided by the SRLN has been as a result of individual and/or institutional commitment and many of the SRLs need to be commended for the work that they have achieved in supporting their partner laboratories with minimal or no funding.

Urgently addressing the issue of sustained and adequate funding for the SRLN - given the
demand and scope of laboratory strengthening services required - is therefore critical if targets for global scale-up of laboratory capacity are to be achieved.
Contact name:Dr Beatriz Lopez

Technical focus area(s): Laboratory capacity strengthening

Current projects with TB component: 

Countries with TB-related work currently underway: Argentina
El Salvador

List of countries in which you have offices: Argentina

Illustrative list of TA providers and areas of expertise: 

Date created:7 September 2011 9:56
Date last modified:16 May 2013 16:02