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Global Health Security Partnerships: Expanding and Improving Public Health Laboratory Strategies and System

Global Health Surveillance

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Center for Global Health (CDC CGH) has issued a grant funding notice to support biorisk reduction and expansion of global health security partnerships with all-levels of government, education institutions, nonprofit and industry organizations.

Activities under this effort should focus on protecting and improving public health globally by: strengthening public health laboratory systems; improving public health laboratory workforce; improving biorisk management; reinforcing emergency laboratory preparedness; and enhancing laboratory quality management systems.

Additionally, laboratory recipients previously funded under CDC-RFA-GH15-1632 may apply to expand efforts in additional countries with special consideration given to those countries within the regions listed in the funding strategy section of this NOFO. Recipients should be able to modify their activities based on agency prioritization.


The U.S. Government has made progress toward improving global health through prior partnerships with laboratory stakeholders to strengthen public health security, public health laboratory systems and capacities, laboratory leadership workforce development and the integration of strategic public health programs. These activities have improved global capacity to rapidly detect and transparently report outbreaks. Many countries and regions have identified the need for robust, interconnected global public health laboratory networks that can detect an outbreak early to limit or mitigate the spread of infectious diseases in humans and animals.

In order to accelerate progress toward this goal, CDC seeks to collaborate with global health security laboratory partners to improve country and regional capacity to: 1) prevent avoidable epidemics by promoting evidence-based laboratory systems focused policies and decision making; 2) detect threats early by improving laboratory systems to detect, differentiate, and characterize pathogens; train laboratorian leaders to use data to inform evidence-based, national policy; and 3) effectively respond and report effectively to infectious disease threats. These strategic laboratory systems strengthening activities will allow CDC to achieve its mission to assist countries in implementing International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) compliance within the framework outlined by the Global Health Security Agenda and enable countries to take action to address the global health security gaps identified in their Joint External Evaluation (JEE) (WHO 2016).

Although improvements in public health capacities have improved, globally, there are still many countries that have identified gaps in laboratory systems that need to be improved in order to adequately detect, respond, confirm and report infectious disease threats. CDC is focusing on strengthening laboratory systems, surveillance systems, workforce development, emergency management and response, out of these, three areas fall under the detect pillar and the forth falls under the response pillar of the IHR (2005). Building these capacities are essential to country’s continued progression toward implementing the IHR (2005) and improving global health security. Based on the IHR (2005) and the GHSA framework, CDC has identified the following five components as focus areas under this effort.

Component 1: Strengthen Capacities of Public Health Laboratory Systems

  • Assess capacity of national reference, provincial, and district laboratories
  • Identify national laboratory system focal point
  • Develop or strengthen national laboratory policy and 5-year strategic plan
  • Define national laboratory tiered services structure
  • Map the national lab system and referral networks for priority pathogens
  • Link national priorities for surveillance with referral networks
  • Plan the implementation of the National Laboratory Strategic Plan
  • Circulate key policies and regulations needed for all laboratories

Component 2: Improve Public Health Laboratory Workforce

  • Introduce or establish global laboratory leadership program for senior laboratorians
  • Mentor senior laboratorians in peer-to-peer evaluation of programs and facilities
  • Train laboratory technicians in microbiology and molecular methods, specimen collection and referral, and biosafety standard operating procedures
  • Adopt national standards for laboratory operating procedures

Component 3: Enhance Laboratory Quality Management Systems

  • Improve participation in national and international quality assurance program and proficiency testing
  • Integrate or increase collaboration among human and animal laboratory systems
  • Develop or strengthen national and international specimen referral systems
  • Strengthen laboratory networks to ensure access to diagnostic testing

Component 4: Improve Biorisk Management Systems

  • Establish a national training program for biorisk management
  • Develop standardized practices for specimen referral, management, and transport
  • Train laboratorians in aseptic specimen handling techniques
  • Initiate plan for compliance with international standards for biosafety and biosecurity in line with WHO’s biorisk management strategy
  • Establish national standards for specimen inventory management and tracking

Component 5: Reinforce Emergency Laboratory Preparedness and Response During Outbreaks

  • Intensify mobilization of laboratory services and personnel during a public health incident
  • Improve and increase outbreak testing and reporting capacities
  • Strengthen non-outbreak related public health activities that are impacted by the outbreak in order to maintain continuity of laboratory services
  • Expedite procurement of necessary reagents and laboratory consumables needed in the field to rapidly detect identify and contain an outbreak
  • Strengthen laboratory surge capacity during outbreak response to highly infectious diseases

This effort builds upon five years of strengthening laboratory systems, workforce development, and emergency preparedness and response activities under CDC-RFA-GH-1632. Using the Global Health Security Agenda framework, countries will continue to strengthen and their national laboratory systems, workforce development (with a laboratory leadership and management focus), and biosafety and biosecurity. Capacity improvement in these areas are measured by relevant health security assessments such as WHO’s Joint External Evaluation.

Additional details are available at CDC-RFA-GH20-2109. The due date for applications is May 04, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Standard Time.

Edited by Stephanie Lizotte

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