SAARC Ref. Lab

STAC TB Reference Laboratory:

SAARC TB Reference Laboratory (STRL) has been established under STAC, which already has a good networking for Quality Assurance of Sputum Microscopy with the Ten National TB Reference Laboratories (NRLs) of the Member States under NTP (which is given below). STRL has been supporting NRLs in the area of Quality Assurance (QA) of microscopy network. Standardization of culture and Drug Susceptibility Testing (DST) and the implementation of international Bio-safety measures are the other challenges. Panel Testing is one of the three components for External Quality Assessment (EQA) or proficiency testing. STRL conducted first round of proficiency testing in Member States in 2003. Since then STRL has been conducting the annual rounds of Proficiency Testing on its own. STRL has completed the Fifteenth Round of Proficiency Testing in 2018. In addition, STRL also provides training to different category of laboratory personnel and also conducts operational research to develop new effective methods for early diagnosis of tuberculosis and early detection of drug resistant tuberculosis. The SAARC Region currently has one and only Supranational Reference Laboratory i.e. National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis in Chennai, India. Considering the geographical size, population and burden of TB and TB/HIV co-infection, there is an urgent need of establishing at least one more SRL in the Region. For this, upgraded and accredited SAARC TB Reference Laboratory will fulfill the requirement of additional Supranational TB Reference Laboratory.

Future Plan

The capacity of STRL shall be upgraded with inputs in terms of Human Resources (HR), infrastructure, essential laboratory equipment and trainings etc. Consequently, STRL shall be accredited as SRL for the SAARC Region. The STRL hence, in future, shall support the NRLs for EQA of sputum microscopy, culture and DST, training and surveillance. STRL after fulfilling all the criteria of SRL shall become one of the Members of WHO recognized SRL network. The STRL shall also be upgraded to serve as a SAARC Regional Reference Laboratory for HIV/AIDS. Hence, in future, STRL shall be developed into a Centre of Excellence (scientific researches, trainings, quality assurance and organism bank) for TB and HIV/AIDS.

The STRL shall also be upgraded to include the latest Molecular Biological Techniques. Simultaneously, STRL shall serve as a Regional Bank for maintenance of the prevalent Genetic strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and human immune deficiency virus (HIV).

National TB Reference Laboratories in SAARC Member Countries

Afghanistan –

  1. National TB Reference Laboratory, Kabul

Bangladesh –

  1. National TB Reference Laboratory, Dhaka

Bhutan –

  1. Public Health Laboratory, Dept. of Health, Thimphu

India –

  1. Tuberculosis Research Centre, Chennai
  2. National TB Institute, Bangalore


  1. Public Health Laboratory, Male

Nepal –

  1. National TB Centre, Thimi, Bhaktapur


  1. Ojha Institute of Chest Disease, Karachi
  2. Federal TB Centre, Rawalpindi

Sri Lanka –

  1. National TB Reference Laboratory, CH, Welisara

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