EU Laboratory Capability Monitoring System (EULabCap): Report on 2015 survey of EU/EEA country capabilities and capacities

technical report
Time period covered: 1 January - 31 December 2015
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European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. EU Laboratory Capability Monitoring System (EULabCap) – Report on 2015 survey of EU/EEA country capabilities and capacities. Stockholm: ECDC; 2017

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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.

Executive summary

​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.

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Levels of public health microbiology system capabilities and capacities (aggregated EULabCap index)

The average EULabCap aggregated index score was 7.5 on a scale of 0–10 in 2015 for the 29 participating EU/EEA countries.

Target 1.1 - Provision and regulation of clinical microbiology services

This target showed fluctuation in the median score despite a narrowing range of performance over time. In 2015, more than 50% of the EU/EEA countries had a score of 7.0 (intermediate: 6.0 to 7.9) or more for this target.

Target 1.2. Diagnostic testing guidelines

Although a continuous positive trend in performance has been observed over time, the widening interquartile ranges still reflect disparity between many countries that also scored low with regard to the availability of national primary diagnostic testing and screening guidelines.

Target 1.3. Diagnostic testing utilisation

This is a weaker target within the primary diagnostic testing dimension. Almost half of the EU/EEA countries are characterised by low capacities in this area. A slight increase of the median score and a narrowing IQR would suggest a gradual improvement.

Target 1.4. Antimicrobial drug susceptibility testing

This target shows rapid improvement over time, with more than 75% of the EU/EEA countries ranking as ‘high capacity/capability’ for harmonised testing in 2015; differences in performance are also narrowing between countries.

Target 2.1. Provision and regulation of NRL microbiology services

A strong target, for which the majority of the EU/EEA countries show a stable, intermediate to high level of capacity/capability of organisation, regulation, and funding of their NRL infrastructure and delivery core public health functions over the years.

Target 2.2. Reference diagnostic confirmation and pathogen identification

A fairly strong target, the level of reference testing capability/capacity remains intermediate in a majority of the EU/EEA countries with a narrowing inter-country range. The observed dip between 2013 and 2014 is likely due to changes in the indicator scoring method between those surveys.

Target 2.3. Molecular typing for surveillance

A challenging target with low baseline level of capability/capacity in many EU/EEA countries for use of molecular typing for surveillance at national and EU levels, as measured by the selected indicators over the year.

Target 2.4. Antimicrobial drug resistance characterisation and monitoring

A strong target, the capacity/capability of the EU/EEA countries to accurately characterise and monitor antimicrobial resistance determinants for national/EU-wide surveillance increased on average from intermediate to high level from 2013 to 2014.

Target 3.1. Support to national surveillance networks

This score increased from intermediate to high from 2013 to 2014, when half of the EU/EEA countries showed high capacity/capability of their clinical/public health laboratories for reporting diagnostic information to surveillance databases.

Target 3.2. Active participation in EU/EEA disease networks

Target assessment suffered from business discontinuity in several ECDC-supported laboratory networks, resulting in one missing indicator in 2014 and two missing indicators in 2015.

Target 3.3. National outbreak response support

This NRL core function is a weaker target, with increasing scores over time as a group. In 2015, half of the EU/EEA countries had intermediate capacity/capability in preparedness and response to outbreaks, with a score of 7.0 or more.

Target 3.4. (Re)-emerging disease laboratory preparedness and response support

Over the years, the up-to-date diagnostic capability for rare and (re)emerging diseases improved in the EU/EEA, with half of the countries reaching a high level of capability in 2015