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WHO collaborates with IATA on the shipping of infectious substances

GENEVA, Switzerland – The World Health Organzation (WHO) Global Influenza Programme, in collaboration with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), have successfully held a training of instructors’ course on the shipping of infectious substances.

The course was designed for WHO staff to build capacity for the sharing of virus isolates, particularly among the influenza network across all WHO regions. The course was held at the IATA Training Centre in Singapore from 5-9 December 2022 and was attended by delegates from all six WHO regions.

The United Nations stresses the importance of safe shipping through strict regulations to ensure that shippers must be trained to safely ship biological specimens. The WHO infectious substances shipping training programme ISST has been in place since 2007, with over 2000 shippers trained so far. Initial face-to-face training and certification is followed by online training every two years to recertify and remain valid.

The main objective of the course held in Singapore was to build a roster of trainers from WHO staff who can deliver the WHO ISST course to governmental laboratory staff in collaboration with WHO Country Offices in their respective region. Participants were taught how to train laboratory, logistics and other technical staff, and topics include classification, labelling, documentation, handling, and emergency procedures. The syllabus included constructing effective lesson plans, formulating test questions, and preparing visual aids. The participants were encouraged to evaluate their approach to the design, delivery, and assessment of training, including by evaluating the training units given by others.

The need to train more staff members to conduct the WHO Infectious Substances Shipping Training (ISST) course has become increasingly important in recent years. This is particularly the case as the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) is being expanded to GISRS Plus, an integrated surveillance network for influenza, SARS-CoV-2, respiratory syncytial virus, and other respiratory viruses of pandemic and epidemic potential.



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