WHO External Quality Assessment Project for the detection of influenza viruses by PCR

The WHO External Quality Assessment Project (EQAP) was established in 2007 to monitor the quality of GISRS and other national influenza reference laboratories that perform PCR diagnosis and to identify gaps of PCR testing in these laboratories. Influenza viruses are constantly evolving and subsequently require the timely adjustment of PCR testing in order to maintain certain sensitivity of virus detection. By monitoring quality and standards of performance, the EQAP plays a key role in strengthening the GISRS diagnostic capacity and preparedness to effectively respond to influenza outbreaks world-wide.

The overall goal of this project is to improve the global laboratory capacity for influenza diagnosis by the detection of influenza virus type A by PCR and the promotion of good laboratory practices. In 2010 the programme was extended to include detection of influenza B viruses. In 2017 the scope of the project was expanded to broader Molecular Detection, Subtyping and Characterization of Influenza Viruses and its importance for risk assessment and rapid response in influenza epidemics or pandemic events.

The EQAP is open to all NICs with PCR capacity and candidate NICs that are willing to participate.