A six-day regional workshop is underway in this regard since August 15

Health: A six-day regional workshop on strengthening capacity and internal quality assurance for the South East Asia Region (SEAR) measles and rubella laboratory network is underway in Thimphu.

Health minister Tandin Wangchuk, at the inaugural yesterday, spoke about Bhutan’s target to eliminate measles by 2018 and the importance of the role of laboratories towards achieving this target.

Around 60 participants from the SEAR member states are participating in the workshop. The workshop was organised to strengthen internal quality and capacity of the laboratory network and to support case-based surveillance for measles and rubella in the SEAR in line with global verification standards.

According to the World Health Organisation, the workshop is expected to review the status and capacity of the current laboratory network to meet the demands of the enhanced regional case based surveillance and reporting system. It is also expected to orient information and technology to enhance measles and rubella case confirmation including identifying sources of transmission.

WHO representative to Bhutan, Dr Ornella Lincetto said that measles elimination is one of the six flagship priority areas of WHO SEAR, with the region to eliminate measles by 2020.

“Given the high immunisation coverage and good surveillance system in place for timely detection, investigation and an outbreak preparedness plan, the target set by Bhutan for measles elimination and control of rubella by 2020 is achievable,” she said.

Dr Ornella Lincetto also said that the workshop would ensure that every laboratory participating would have quality assurance programme to continue to have ‘proficient laboratory’ status and to keep the laboratory network updated on recent advances.

The workshop is organised and supported by WHO SEAR.

Kinga Dema