Serious threats such as pandemic influenza can affect multiple countries, and action at EU-level is required in order to diagnose and detect the pathogens. In such cases, laboratories across the EU need to work together, so that risks can be assessed and health threats managed effectively.
EU laboratory cooperation
Reference laboratories for human pathogens
Many EU countries have "national reference laboratories", specialised in specific pathogens and chosen for excellence in their specific field of activity. They provide high-quality surveillance and diagnostics of various human pathogens – infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria that cause diseases in humans.
The EU helps member states strengthen their national laboratory capacity and is examining ways to help national human-pathogen labs network better at EU level.
The Commission, the EU Network for epidemiological surveillance and control of communicable diseases , the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the Executive Agency for Health and Consumers (EAHC) work closely with national governments to enhance Europe-wide surveillance of infectious diseases.
The EU Health Security Committee also helps improve laboratory cooperation and networking.
More information can be found in the 2011 Commission and ECDC position statement on human pathogen laboratories.
- made improving citizens’ health security the highest priority.
- called for diagnostic cooperation between labs in EU member countries.
- called for support for existing laboratories that are doing work relevant to EU efforts to set up a reference lab network.
Public health authorities have set up several laboratory cooperation networks – covering specific health fields – both at EU level and between certain member countries.
The networks make it possible to share information rapidly, as well as monitor and diagnose health threats.