Setting: External quality assessment (EQA) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis drug susceptibility testing (DST) in bacteriological tuberculosis (TB) laboratories in the Russian Federation.
Objective: To improve the EQA of DST of first-line anti-tuberculosis drugs using proficiency testing in the Russian Federation.
Method: Three rounds of DST proficiency testing using Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates provided by the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, a World Health Organization Supranational Reference Laboratory (SRL). In total, 42 TB laboratories in the Russian civilian and prison sectors participated in at least one round of proficiency testing, and 17 laboratories participated in all three rounds.
Results: Ninety-seven per cent (87/89) of reports were received for the three rounds: 67% of laboratories in the first round and 86% of laboratories in the second round demonstrated >or=95% accuracy for isoniazid, and respectively 72% and 80% of laboratories in the first and second rounds reported >or=95% accuracy for rifampicin.
Conclusion: Coordination with the SRL network resulted in the introduction of 90 well-characterised strains for EQA in the Russian Federation. Successive rounds of DST proficiency testing have helped to identify highly proficient laboratories that will be used as expert laboratories for proficiency testing in the future.