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Guidance for the Management of OIE Reference Laboratory Networks


The global network of OIE Reference Centres is the central core of the OIE’s scientific excellence. The First International Conference of OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres (held in Florianopolis, Brazil, in 2006) recommended that a network of OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres be developed with the objective of harmonising and exchanging data, information and reference material to improve disease surveillance and control worldwide.

The Second Global Conference of OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres (held in Paris in June 2010) encouraged the networks of OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres to continue working together to strengthen multilateral cooperation, in particular with the aim of producing and increasing availability of validated biological reference materials. In order to strengthen this collaboration, the OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres should continue to exchange knowledge, reference materials and expertise to the benefit of OIE Member Countries.

The Terms of Reference (ToR) adopted in May 2011 explicitly require OIE Reference Laboratories to establish and maintain a network among all the OIE Reference Laboratories designated for the same pathogen. More details on the ToR of OIE Reference Laboratories are available at the following link.

The OIE has identified the need for further guidance on the coordination of the OIE Reference Centre networks. The objective is to assure unified expert opinions and advice to OIE Member Countries through the enhanced exchange of information.

The network of OIE Reference Laboratories shall assure congruent results across laboratories through the adherence to OIE Standards, the sharing of reference materials within the network and the participation in appropriate proficiency testing. Networking also provides opportunities for exchange of knowledge and experience, mutual support and development of scientific collaborations. It will improve the credibility and increase the visibility of OIE Reference Laboratories worldwide, and will attract the participation of other national reference laboratories from OIE Member Countries.

On a case-by-case basis, the OIE Headquarters could invite the existing Reference Laboratories to meet (physically or by telephone conference) to help to create a network, to appoint the secretariat, and to follow this guidance.


  • Networking among OIE Reference Laboratories is part of their ToR. When two or more OIE Reference Laboratories are designated for the same pathogen, a network must be established. Participation in the network is compulsory for OIE Reference Laboratories. Only OIE Reference Laboratories are accountable to the OIE. However other reference laboratories may participate in some of the activities of the network, as appropriate.
  • The network should have a secretariat (officially notified to the OIE) in one of the participating OIE Reference Laboratories to serve as a liaison with the OIE Headquarters. It is recommended that the secretariat is responsible for coordination, leadership and accountability of the network. The secretariat may rotate among participating laboratories (e.g. every 3 years). It is the responsibility of the Secretariat of the network to manage conflict of interests and confidentiality declarations if they are deemed required by the network and OIE is not involved in this process.
  • Each network should have a clear work plan and the secretariat should provide the OIE Director General with an annual report of its activities : achievements, obstacles, future initiatives (individual laboratories can make reference to the network report in its annual OIE Reference Laboratory report).
  • When meetings are organised by the network, participation of OIE staff as observers should be allowed, and the secretariat should produce a meeting report that should be shared with the OIE Headquarters.
  • If a discrepancy or disagreement arises that cannot be resolved within the network, the secretariat should inform the OIE Headquarters without delay. The OIE Headquarters will inform the Biological Standards Commission accordingly.
  • Conditions for inclusion of a network website link on the Website of the OIE:

    • The network may establish a website to disseminate information on its activities. The network should formally request the Director General of the OIE that a link to its website be added to the OIE website.
    • The website of the network must comply with OIE rules for graphic layout and other applicable OIE policies.
    • Any major changes to the website of the network should be notified to the OIE in advance.
  • The OIE Headquarters reserves the right to recommend any changes to the content of the web site of the network, as deemed appropriate, and to remove the link of the web site of the network at any time while providing the reasons to the secretariat of the network.
  • The reports and activities of the network reflects the views of the network members and may not necessarily reflect the views of the OIE.

OIE contact point for networks
Sara Linnane
Scientific Department
World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
12, rue de Prony
75017 Paris, France
E-mail: [email protected]