Please wait while loading your Bulletin

OIE NEWS CONTINUOUS INFORMATIONImproving sustainability to avoid laboratory disasters

CONTINUOUS INFORMATION Posted on 2018-09-26 15:30:59

Improving sustainability to avoid laboratory disasters


Font size - A A A +

Responding to concerns about the sustainability of laboratories, the OIE, together with Chatham House, is working to explore solutions…

Authors: Keith Hamilton (1), Jennifer Lasley (1) & David R. Harper (2)
(1) World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
(2) Chatham House, London, United Kingdom


The designations and denominations employed and the presentation of the material in this article do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the OIE concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers and boundaries.
The views expressed in this article are solely the responsibility of the author(s). The mention of specific companies or products of manufacturers, whether or not these have been patented, does not imply that these have been endorsed or recommended by the OIE in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.


Laboratories are essential cornerstones of public and veterinary health systems. But if they are not adequately sustained, they become a threat to the health of people, animals, and the environment around them. Laboratories are facing serious problems with sustainability.It is critical for public and animal health that the systems which underpin safety, security, and delivery of accurate laboratory test results are properly maintained.

Laboratories are expensive to build and operate. They also consume large amounts of energy and natural resources (including clean water). This is especially true of more sophisticated facilities such as high containment labs, which require guaranteed long-term financial and resourcing commitments in order to operate safely and effectively. Whilst funds are often set aside for construction and operationalization, annual budgets for long term maintenance can be more difficult to obtain. If laboratory capacities are not adequately matched to locally available resources, they quickly become a burden. Lacking a robust business plan, and with high running and maintenance costs, such laboratories quickly become unsustainable.

However, within these problems lie solutions. As other sectors have experienced, there is significant scope to improve the sustainability, both of existing laboratories and those yet to be built, through leadership, cooperation, and innovation. Innovation can improve energy and resource efficiency without compromising, and even enhancing, safety and security.

The OIE and Chatham House with the support of Global Affairs Canada, the UK International Biosecurity Programme and Public Health England have initiated an international conversation on these issues and are leading the quest for innovative solutions. On 1-2 March 2018 at OIE Headquarters more than 50 international experts explored ways to improve the sustainability of laboratories.

The key message is that something needs to be done now and this will need all the public and private stakeholders to rally around a common and transformative agenda.

Full report of the meeting…

As follow-up to the meeting we have initiated work to frame options for an ‘Open Innovation’ competition (or Grand Challenge) whereby a call is issued (with the offer of a prize) to a large network of potential innovators. To take this to the next level, we propose to work within a consortium of committed stakeholders including end users, beneficiaries (from both the public and private sectors e.g. the livestock industry), donors, and national experts.

Work has also been initiated on Cost/Benefit Analysis which aims to balance the costs of running laboratories against the multiple health, societal and security benefits they provide and the potentially disastrous costs of not investing in labs. Outputs of this work should convince funders that long term investment in labs is worthwhile.

Incidents such as Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Deepwater Horizon have highlighted the risks of not sustaining infrastructure and critical control systems in other sectors. Collective action must be taken to avoid the same happening within the animal and public health sector.

June 2018

Related informations to article

  • 47min

    Destination 2040 - there and back through the OIE Futures Literacy Laboratory

  • 17min

    The OIE holds its 16th annual World Fund Advisory Committee Meeting

  • 11min

    The World Organisation for Animal Health launches a database on public—private partnerships in the veterinary domain

  • 20min

    Competent and well-equipped Veterinary Services in support of national health systems: the OIE contribution

  • 24min

    Exploring how futures are imagined and used: unleashing the potential of Foresight and Futures Literacy

  • 10min

    OIE Tool for the Evaluation of Performance of Aquatic Animal Health Services (PVS Tool - Aquatic), 2nd edition

  • 6min

    New suppliers selected for the OIE Rabies Vaccine Bank

  • 9min

    New suppliers selected for the OIE PPR Vaccine Bank

  • 13min

    Lessons learnt series on veterinary paraprofessionals

  • 14min

    Keeping our institutional meetings despite the virtual environment

  • 13min

    Electronic sanitary certificates for safe international trade in animals and animal products

  • 6min

    Discover the new OIE Documentary Portal

  • 12min

    Moving forward on the Global Burden of Animal Diseases (GBADs) Programme

  • 28min

    Virtual interviews as an alternative to field missions? Lessons learnt from a pilot experience

  • 29min

    Enhancing veterinary laboratory capacity in COVID-19’s wake through the first-ever virtual OIE PVS mission

  • 14min

    The third OIE Animal Welfare Global Forum

  • 26min

    Current state and future of small companion animal practice in Africa

  • 24min

    The OIE World Fund: 2020 financial performance

  • 12min

    The OIE Standard Operating Procedure to improve notification of emerging diseases of terrestrial animals

  • 15min

    The OIE Aquatic Animals Commission furthers aquatic animal health globally and delivers substantial achievements during its last term

  • 23min

    The digital archive of the OIE Bulletin from 1927 to 1982 is now available on the Documentary Portal

  • 23min

    Global report indicates decreasing trend in antimicrobials intended for use in the animal sector

  • 35min

    How disease control and animal health services can impact antimicrobial resistance. A retrospective country case study of Sweden

  • 34min

    Reflections on the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Epidemic of 2001: a United Kingdom Perspective

  • 46min

    Reflections on the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Epidemic of 2001: an Irish Perspective

  • 7min

    Safe Trade and FMD Control Training Course

  • 15min

    STAR-IDAZ International Research Consortium on Animal Health Releases a State-of-the-Art Report on Priority Animal Diseases

  • 17min

    OIE PVS Pathway missions go virtual!

  • 31min

    100-year anniversary of the origin of the OIE at the 1921 Paris International Conference

  • 23min

    First workshop of the OIE Twinning Network on Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers in West and Central Africa

  • 14min

    Taking a closer look at the 15th OIE World Fund Advisory Committee Meeting

  • 13min

    The OIE and the University of Liverpool host the launch of the Global Burden of Animal Diseases (GBADs) Programme

  • 13min

    Global leaders meet to elevate sustainable political support for antimicrobial resistance issue

  • 24min

    News from the OIE Laboratory Twinning Programme

  • 49min

    Veterinary workforce development: the relevance of skill qualification, education and occupational frameworks

  • 12min

    Assessing the risks of zoonotic diseases under the One Health approach: a new tripartite operational tool

  • 4min

    G20 statement

  • 112min

    Overcoming the impact of COVID-19 on animal welfare:
    COVID-19 Thematic Platform on Animal Welfare

  • 34min

    Twinning is winning

  • 42min

    Global Burden of Animal Diseases – building a community of practice for animal health economics

  • 7min

    Identifying and testing suitable and safe aircraft disinfectants for use on cargo planes that transport animals

  • 6min

    FAO and OIE Directors General exchange views on the cooperation between their two organisations

  • 15min

    Applying Big Data solutions to One Health challenges in the Mediterranean region

  • 8min

    Namibia’s demonstration of freedom from bovine tuberculosis

  • 10min

    Triage in the trenches, for the love of animals

  • 18min

    The OIE Rabies Vaccine Bank: a possible tool for outbreak response

  • 22min

    OIE rabies international standards: towards ‘Zero by 30’

  • 21min

    Global Strategic Plan to end human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030

  • 8min

    Epidemiological survey of bovine viral diarrhoea in dairy cattle in Nepal

  • 3min

    LSD: a new challenge to the Veterinary Services of Central Asian countries

  • 15min

    Improving sustainability to avoid laboratory disasters

  • 6min

    On the frontlines of rabies eradication