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The World Health Organization (WHO) has set at least 70% PCR confirmation rate as target for countries to meet, yet most countries in the African region have not been able to reach this target. Rather, the rate of confirmation has been declining; and this is due to, amongst other factors, low PCR confirmation in a number of these endemic countries.

Also, since the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) Antwerp in Belgium discontinued the external quality assessment (EQA) program in March 2019, it was thus imperative that a novel EQA program be rapidly introduced that will improve the performance of laboratories involved in the molecular diagnosis of BU in the endemic countries in Africa.

It was against this background that in October 2019, WHO organized a meeting, first of its kind, that brought together representatives from 11 laboratories of 9 endemic countries (Benin, Cameroon, Ivory coast, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Togo, Liberia, Nigeria and Gabon) and external experts. This meeting was held at Centre Pasteur du Cameroun, one of the endemic country laboratories which had a remarkable performance in previous EQA rounds and with the capacity and expertise to implement and conduct the new EQA program. The above group of laboratories thus formed a solid network of Buruli ulcer laboratories with acronym; the BU-LABNET – coordinating center at the Pasteur Institute Yaounde, Cameroon.