Epidemic & Pandemic alert and Response (EPR)

Laboratory and Containment (LAB)


The Laboratory and Containment (LAB) sub-unit improves the capacity for the prompt confirmation of etiological agents of priority communicable diseases and monitoring antimicrobial and antiviral resistance in Member States through a strong functional public health laboratory networks.

Progress made by countries in strengthening their national public health laboratories’ capacities and the networking of laboratories at regional level has led to early detection of emerging dangerous pathogens, such as Ebola and Marburg viruses, and enabled a better, more effective response.

The importance of early detection was underscored by the epidemic of Ebola virus disease in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Key Functions

  • Establish/support national, sub-regional and regional public health laboratory networks.
  • Facilitate the development of public health laboratory network policy.
  • Support Member States to improve their capacity for the prompt confirmation of etiological agents of priority communicable diseases and any other public health emergency of international concern that can be confirmed by laboratory methods.
  • Provide Member States with up-to-date information on diagnostic procedures, training materials and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
  • Coordinate laboratory training courses and inter-country meetings in relation with communicable disease response.
  • Support the establishment of mechanisms for internal and external quality control, and accreditation/certification for national public health laboratories.
  • Monitor antimicrobial and antiviral resistance for etiological agents of priority diseases.
  • Establish and/or reinforce WHO Collaborating Centres and connect national reference laboratories to international reference laboratories and WHO Collaborating Centres.
  • Support Member States to establish and maintain functional mechanisms to enable all levels of the health care system, including peripheral health facilities, district health teams and the national level to collect, package and transport specimens to public health laboratories.
  • Support Member States with the transportation of specimens and their shipment overseas, biosafety and laboratory biosecurity.
  • Support the delivery of (or the access to) specific consumables, reagents or equipment.


Cholera fact sheet

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF)

CCHF fact sheet

Ebola virus disease

Ebola virus disease website [Français]


Marburg haemorrhagic fever fact sheet


Polio fact sheet

Yellow fever

Yellow fever

Zika virus

Zika virus fact sheet