Public health laboratories (PHLs) are governmental reference laboratories that protect the public against diseases and other health hazards. The 2005 International Health Regulations came into force in June 2007, with 196 binding countries that recognised that certain public health incidents, extending beyond disease, ought to be designated as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), as they pose a significant global threat. The PHLs serve as national hazard detection centres, and forward these concerns to the World Health Organization.
In 2007, Haim Hacham et al. published a paper addressing the need for and the process of international standardised accreditation for laboratory proficiency in Israel. With similar efforts, both the Japan Accreditation Board for Conformity Assessment (JAB) and the European Communities Confederation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EC4) have validated and convened ISO 15189 Medical laboratories — Requirements for quality and competence, respectively.
In 2006, Spitzenberger and Edelhäuser expressed concerns that ISO accreditation may include obstacles arising from new emerging medical devices and the new approach of assessment; in so doing, they indicate the time dependence of standards.
The Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) was established as part of the National Health Service in 1946. An Emergency Public Health Laboratory Service was established in 1940 as a response to the threat of bacteriological warfare. There was originally a central laboratory at Colindale and a network of regional and local laboratories. By 1955 there were about 1000 staff. These laboratories were primarily preventive with an epidemiological focus. They were, however, in some places located with hospital laboratories which had a diagnostic focus.
United States laboratory networks and organizations