EU PROVIDES ADDITIONAL SEQUENCING CAPACITY TO THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH NATIONAL VIROLOGY REFERENCE LABORATORY
The EU-funded project launched in early 2021 aims to enhance the Ministry of Health’s capacity on genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 and the mutations that occur during the ongoing pandemic, as well as future outbreaks due to any emerging or re-emerging pathogens.
Genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 is essential to detect, monitor and assess virus variants that can result in increased transmissibility, disease severity, or have other adverse effects on public health and social control measures.
Turkey is in the phase of increasing both its sequencing capacities and capabilities to set up a robust surveillance system that allows for the detection and monitoring of variant viruses.
To support this goal, the European Commission provides additional capacity to the National Virology Reference Laboratory with the procurement of genome sequencing instruments reagents and IT tools. The project also includes a capacity-building component of the National Virology Reference Centre, through training on whole genome sequencing to be delivered at the national and provincial level.
With a rapid turn-around time and increased volume of samples per week, this sequencing capability offers Turkey a unique opportunity to develop its national capacities for - and add a molecular surveillance component to - its existing National Surveillance system. This effort will link genomic data to case-based laboratory surveillance data on communicable diseases, feeding bottom-up information into the routine national communicable disease surveillance systems.
This added feature of sequencing will greatly enhance national capacities for early detection and timely management of COVID-19 cases with potential viral mutations in the current as well as in future pandemics.
The ”Strengthening national capacities against COVID-19” action aims to reinforce Turkey’s health system capacities to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. It is built upon the EU’s long-standing and ongoing support to Turkey for communicable disease surveillance. The implementation of the action is entrusted to the World Health Organisation (WHO). It covers a period of 24 months and has EUR 5.35 million in total funding, 1% of which is co-financed by the WHO.
This action complements the capacities already delivered through the ongoing EU-funded “Health Security in Turkey” project, also implemented under a partnership between the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation, by further strengthening laboratory surveillance and early warning capacity for timely detection of infectious/biological hazards.
It adds to the resources that the European Commission has already reallocated in response to the COVID-19 crisis in Turkey. A cumulative amount of EUR 80 million was programmed under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, ECHO and IPA (Instrument for Pre-Accession) programmes to help mitigate the immediate health, social and economic impacts of the country’s crisis.
For more information please contact:
Figen Tunçkanat, Sector Manager for Health
T +90 312 459 87 00
For press inquiries:
Miray Akdağ, Press Counsellor of the EU in Turkey
M +90 532 624 93 56 / T +90 312 459 88 77