From 10-12 September 2012, a Meeting of the Polio Laboratory Network for the Region of the Americas was held at the Malbran Institute in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The main objectives of the meeting were to: review the status of the Polio Laboratory Network of the Americas; review and discuss recent advances in virological and molecular methodologies used in the Global Polio Laboratory Network (GPLN); and discuss issues relevant to the functioning of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Laboratory Network and the management of laboratories. Representatives of nine out of the 11 polio laboratories in the Region, as well as the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and PAHO’s Immunization Program participated in the meeting.
After three days of discussions, the agreements from the meeting were the following: meet performance standards as defined by the WHO Global Polio Laboratory Network; resume on-site visits from PAHO’s regional laboratory coordinator in order to allow comprehensive assessments of the current capabilities and needs of the laboratories; comply with the new algorithm targets; ensure that all poliovirus isolates are appropriately screened for the presence of vaccine-derived polioviruses (VPDVs); and report any wild polio virus (WPV) or VDPV detected after sequencing to the national authorities and WHO/PAHO Regional Laboratory Coordinator (RLC) within 24 hours.
Other recommendations included encouraging the laboratories of the Region to work with surveillance personnel and relevant authorities to implement environmental surveillance to supplement surveillance of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), where and when needed; meeting at least once a month by laboratory and epidemiological staff to reconcile data, identify data omissions and verify accuracy of laboratory results included in PAHO’s Polio Weekly Bulletin; and monitoring the performance of laboratory indicators and providing timely feedback to each laboratory, among others.