[Press-releases] Pacific Public Health Laboratory Network - regional workshop on communicable disease control
christellel at spc.int
Thu Jul 27 18:01:44 EDT 2006
SECRETARIAT OF THE PACIFIC COMMUNITY
Pacific Public Health Laboratory Network - regional workshop on
communicable disease control
Noumea, Friday 28 July 2006 - Laboratory health professionals of the
Pacific Public Health Laboratory Network (LabNet) will meet next week
(Monday 31 July to Friday 4 August) to discuss lab-based surveillance
activities for communicable diseases in the region. The meeting will be
held at the Research and Development Institute (IRD) in Noumea.
The aims of this technical workshop organised by the Secretariat of the
Pacific Community (SPC) include assessing current lab testing and
specimen shipment procedures in relation to identifying and controlling
epidemic diseases such as dengue, influenza and HIV. The workshop will
also focus on planning further development of the network, particularly
for pandemic influenza preparedness.
Communicable diseases are a serious threat to public health in the
Pacific Region. They are also of international importance as they can
spread rapidly from country to country through air travel. The last
dengue-1 epidemic, which started in 2000 and ended in 2004, spread to at
least 16 Pacific Island countries and territories, affecting as much as
20 per cent of the population in some islands.
Launched in 2000 by SPC and the World Health Organization (WHO), LabNet
is a service of the Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network, which is
aimed at improving communicable disease prevention and control in the 22
Pacific Island members of SPC.
The Pasteur Institute of New Caledonia plays a major role in the
network, together with SPC and WHO.
The workshop will be attended by representatives from 21 Pacific Island
countries and territories: American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated
States of Micronesia, Fiji Islands, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati,
Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands,
Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu,
Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna.
Technical experts from the Pasteur Institute of New Caledonia (IPNC) and
the World Health Organization (WHO) will assist SPC organisers, together
with specialists from reference laboratories in Australia, New Zealand
and USA, and the Pacific Paramedical Training Centre in New Zealand.
Financial assistance is being provided by the Asian Development Bank,
France and the New Zealand Agency for International Development through
the PREPARE project.
For more information, please contact:
Christelle Lepers, SPC Surveillance Information Officer.
Tel.: 26.01.81 or 26.20.00 (switchboard) or 84.28.37 - Fax: 26.38.18 -
Email: christellel at spc.int
Background information on LabNet
What is LabNet?
LabNet provides verification and identification of epidemics of
communicable diseases. It was launched in April 2000 at a meeting in
Noumea, New Caledonia, co-organised by SPC and the World Health
Organization (WHO). LabNet is a service of the Pacific Public Health
Surveillance Network, which is aimed at improving public health
surveillance and response in the Pacific Islands in a sustainable way.
Why was it created?
Many island countries and territories do not have the public health
laboratory services required to detect and control epidemics. Some
laboratory techniques (for example, identification of a bacterial or
viral strain) are too expensive for these island countries to acquire
and maintain. LabNet was created to address these needs and offers
diagnostic tools and technical support to Pacific Island countries and
How is it organised?
The network includes three levels of laboratories: Level 1 =
national/territorial laboratories in the 22 PICTs; Level 2 = four public
health laboratories in Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam and New Caledonia
that have agreed to provide selected diagnostic services to neighbouring
countries according to their individual capacity; and Level 3 =
reference laboratories in Australia, New Caledonia, New Zealand and
A technical working body, which includes the Secretariat of the Pacific
Community, the Pasteur Institute of New Caledonia and the World Health
Organization, is facilitating and coordinating the development of
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