EU Laboratory Capability Monitoring System (EULabCap): Report on 2015 survey of EU/EEA country capabilities and capacities
This report for 2015, which presents the indicator results for EU and EEA (European Economic Area) countries, aims to help policymakers identify possible areas for action and to evaluate the impact of capacity strengthening activities and health system reforms.
The ECDC public health microbiology strategy (2012–2016) aims to strengthen the capability and capacity of the EU public health microbiology system to provide the timely and reliable information that underpins infectious threat detection, assessment and surveillance at EU and Member State levels to prevent and control infectious diseases. To ascertain how well this is delivered, ECDC has developed the EULabCap system for monitoring key public health microbiology capabilities and capacity for EU surveillance and epidemic preparedness.
The EU Laboratory Capability (EULabCap) report on the results of the 2015 survey concludes that the EU/EEA as a whole has a strong and improving public health microbiology system, with an average EULabCap score of 7.5 on a scale of 10, up from 6.9 in 2013 and 7.3 in 2014.
EU Member States showed strong capabilities with, as in previous years, use of harmonised methods for antimicrobial drug susceptibility testing, provision of comprehensive reference laboratory services, and laboratory collaboration within national and EU surveillance networks.
With laboratories facing new challenges in detecting the rapid emergence of multi and pandrug-resistant pathogens, improved methods are needed for timely and accurate surveillance of antimicrobial resistance. In this context, the continually improving adherence of the Member States to harmonised antimicrobial drug susceptibility testing is extremely encouraging. This improvement reflects wider implementation of the clinical breakpoints established by the European Committee on Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (EUCAST). The vast majority of EU countries have established National Antimicrobial Susceptibility Committees (NACs) and efforts are underway to ensure that all countries will have access to the guidance of a NAC.
Areas of more limited capacity in previous surveys, such as the use of molecular typing for national surveillance and reference laboratory participation in outbreak response, show significant progress over the last three years. In contrast, many countries still manifest limited capabilities and/or low capacity in provision of national diagnostic guidance and utilisation rates of primary diagnostic services.
ECDC will continue its monitoring of the European laboratory capacity as basis for future country support and capacity building activities. Feedback from the National Microbiology Focal Points (NMFPs) showed that EULabCap reports are useful at the national level, with the majority of the countries targeting one or more focus areas for improvement after EULabCap feedback.
The EULabCap system
EULabCap (EU Laboratory Capability Monitoring System) is a tool for assessing and monitoring the laboratory capacities and capabilities in EU/EEA countries to underpin public health surveillance and assessment of risk posed by infectious disease. Furthermore, it gives an indication on the progression towards agreed upon practice standards and public health targets. This assessment aims at helping policy makers and practitioners identify possible areas for action and evaluate the impact of capacity strengthening activities and health system reformsThis report presents the indicator results of the 2015 data, country response rate to the 2015 survey was 97% (29 EU/EEA countries). Data from 2015 were provided for 96% of the indicators (range per country, 84–100% complete data available). The average EULabCap 2015 aggregated index for the EU/EEA slightly increased to 7.5 on a scale of 0-10, as compared to 7.3 in 2014 and 6.9 in 2013.