Public health laboratory


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.

International accreditationEdit

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.[1] 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.[2][3]

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.[4]


  • WHO-Afro HIV/AIDS Laboratory Network[dead link]
  • East African Laboratory Network
  • African Society for Laboratory Medicine


  • Canadian Public Health Laboratory Network


  • European Union Reference Laboratories cf. Commission Regulation (EC) No 776/2006 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 882/2004[5]
  • EpiSouth Network

United KingdomEdit

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.[6]

The PHLS was replaced by the Health Protection Agency in 2003;[citation needed] the HPA was disbanded and in its stead was constituted the UK Health Security Agency in 2021.

United StatesEdit

United States laboratory networks and organizations

  • Association of Public Health Laboratories
  • Laboratory Response Network (CDC)
  • PulseNet (CDC)
  • Integrated Consortium of Laboratory Networks
  • Food Emergency Response Network
  • Environmental Laboratory Response Network
  • Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response

Other international laboratory networksEdit

  • WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System
  • WHO H5 Reference Laboratories
  • WHO Emerging and Dangerous Pathogens Laboratory Network

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hacham, Haim; Tetro, Nurit; Kochavi-Azolai, Salit; Stern, Nava; Mizrahi, Dana; Lisenker, Anna; Gazit, Emanuel; et al. (2007). "Unification of the quality assurance systems of public health laboratories conformed to ISO 17025, ISO 15189, and ISO 9000: a major organizational change". Accreditation and Quality Assurance. Elsevier. 12 (8): 409–413. doi:10.1007/s00769-007-0262-9.
  2. ^ Aoyagi T, Kawai T (May 2006). "[Validation of the ISO 15189 trial assessment results of clinical laboratories--effects of accreditation and interpretation of ISO 15189]". Rinsho Byori (in Japanese). 54 (5): 486–93. PMID 16789419.
  3. ^ Huisman W, Horvath AR, Burnett D, et al. (2007). "Accreditation of medical laboratories in the European Union". Clin. Chem. Lab. Med. 45 (2): 268–75. doi:10.1515/CCLM.2007.037. PMID 17311523.
  4. ^ Spitzenberger F, Edelhäuser R (2006). "Accreditation of Medical Laboratories in Europe: Statutory Framework, Current Situation and Perspectives". Transfusion Medicine and Hemotherapy. S. Karger AG. 33 (5): 384–92. doi:10.1159/000094738.
  5. ^ "National Reference Laboratories at the BVL". Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety. n.d.
  6. ^ Webster, Charles (1988). The Health Services Since the War. HMSO. ISBN 0 11 630942 3.