Training activities of the WHO European Regional Reference Laboratory at LIH
Between 3rd and 14th October 2016, the WHO European Regional Reference Laboratory for Measles and Rubella in Luxembourg (RRL-Lux) which is part of LIH’s Department of Infection and Immunity hosted three trainees from the National Reference Laboratories for Measles and Rubella in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia.
The need for a practical training had been identified during WHO on-site accreditation visits in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2015 in collaboration with the Director of the RRL-Lux Prof Claude P. Muller and in Serbia in 2016. The aim was to improve current laboratory procedures as well as to implement new methods, especially concerning virus characterisation and the use of WHO supported sequence databases. ‘Our training is as much as possible adapted to the specific needs of the trainees’, says Dr Judith Hübschen, Deputy Director of the RRL-Lux. ‘The challenge in this case was to satisfy the different needs and expectations of the trainees taking their varying backgrounds and tasks in their home laboratories into account.’
The hands-on laboratory training was conducted and supervised by Aurélie Sausy, one of the two technicians of LIH’s Clinical and Applied Virology research group mostly involved in WHO-related activities. Ms. Sausy demonstrated among others how ELISAs, genotyping PCRs, gel electrophoresis, PCR product purification and sequencing are done at the RRL-Lux. A special focus was on WHO compliant standard operating procedures, preparation of protocols, use and monitoring of controls for the different steps of each experiment and result analysis and documentation. ‘The trainees were very eager to learn and asked many questions about basically all aspects of WHO-related laboratory procedures’, says Aurélie Sausy.
For the participant from Serbia, Dr. Bančević, it was already the second training provided by the RRL-Lux, since in April this year RRL-Lux technician Emilie Charpentier had visited the National Reference Laboratory for Measles and Rubella in Belgrade for an on-site training involving local laboratory staff.
The WHO Regional Office for Europe covered all costs related to travel, accommodation and living of the three trainees, while the RRL-Lux, supported by a financial contribution of the Rotary Club Luxembourg-Vallées, paid the charges related to the practical training and will provide some laboratory material to the trainees’ home laboratories to support local measles/rubella diagnostic capacities.
The RRL-Lux is one of only three WHO European Regional Reference Laboratories for Measles and Rubella and is financially supported by the Laboratoire National de Santé, the Luxembourg Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the Ministry of Health. Since a few months, the RRL-Lux is also responsible for the Ukraine, increasing the number of countries in its constituency to 23. Most National Reference Laboratories in the Balkan states, including those in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, are under the supervision of the RRL-Lux.
From left to right: Aurélie Sausy (LIH technician in charge of the laboratory training), Željka Šumić (laboratory technician at the National Reference Laboratory for Measles and Rubella in the Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina), Dr. Maja Bančević (Head of the National Reference Laboratory for Measles and Rubella in Serbia) and Dr. Irma Salimović- Bešić (Assistant Professor at the National Reference Laboratory for Measles and Rubella in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina).