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New policy-formulation methodology paves the way for sustainable laboratory systems in Europe.

C.S. Brown, J. Zwetyenga, M. Berdieva, T. Volkova, R. Cojocaru, N. Costic, S. Ciobanu, S. Hasanova, S.M. van Beers, L. Oskam

Laboratories are an essential and fundamental part of all health systems and their goal to improve health. Reliable and timely laboratory-investigation results are fundamental elements in decision-making in almost all aspects of health services and so directly affect the health and well-being of individuals and countries. Reliable and timely laboratory services are also crucial to a nation’s health security and economy and its ability to meet obligations such as the International Health Regulations. Approximately 60–70% of medical decisions are based on laboratory results. The ongoing outbreak of Ebola virus disease in west Africa has highlighted not only the crucial role of a strong health system in responding to public health emergencies but also the immense cost of ignoring this need. Within such a strong health system, effective high-quality (accredited) laboratories and response networks must be on the front line/