Skip main navigation

£199.99 £139.99 for one year of Unlimited learning. Offer ends on 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply

Find out more

AST Systems and Organisations

In this video Gunnar Kahlmeter talks about AST Systems and Organisations.
Hello, everyone. I’m back with the last of four instalments related to antimicrobial susceptibility testing. And today we’re going to talk about systems and organisations.
There are National Medicines Agencies, basically one in each country. In the UK, it’s the NHRA in the US, it’s Food and Drug Administration– FDA. In Sweden it’s Livsmedelsverket. And each of you can go back to your country and find out what the name is in your country. In Europe, the European Medicines Agency, EMA, organises and coordinates all European Medicines agencies.
The European committee on antimicrobial susceptibility test in EUCAST that we’ve talked about previously determines breakpoints for new and for existing agents for Europe. And these are now accepted by all European countries, and many non-European countries. In the US of A, FDA, the Food and Drug Administration, determines breakpoints for the US and seal aside clinical laboratory standards Institute provides technical recommendations. The current uptake of EUCAST’s guidelines in Europe and some other countries are available in maps. You can find those regularly updated on the EUCAST’s website. And the current map is on the link– behind the link, below. So what other relevant organisations might we bring up?
Each country should have a relationship of some sort to external quality control of microbiological procedures. And AST is certainly one of the most important laboratory practises. For those countries that have not organised their own external quality control programme. You can sign up with the UK NEQAS programme. It organises a wide range of EQAs for anything from cytomegalovirus to AST with monthly distributions for many of those things.
And if I didn’t have my numbers wrong, I think there are about 800 laboratories currently signed up, depending on which programme we are talking about. Over the last few years, accreditation authorities have become very important and I think it’s fair to say that all countries in Europe now have an accreditation authority and many of them are organised through a European Central organisation. And most European laboratories either have organised accreditation or are in the process of doing so.
Over the last 10 years, EUCAST has encouraged all countries to form a national AST committee– a NAC. NACs are supposed to help laboratories on a national level to implement good laboratory practises in the field of susceptibility testing, educational activities, advice interpretation of EUCAST. Guidelines sometimes translation of EUCAST’S documents, and all next operate in slightly different ways, but it’s fair to say that in many countries, that NACs have become very important. And if you don’t know what the NAC is doing and who is the chairperson in your country, you can go to the website listed below and find out who you should contact if you would like to do that. So thank you very much.

In this video, Professor Kahlmeter talks about some of the organisations that are involved with AST and points to resources and websites for these.


Screenshot of the EMA website


Screenshot of the EUCAST website

EUCAST organises microbiology and infectious diseases in Europe and in many other countries.

  • To determine and review breakpoints
  • Develop methodology for AST
  • Develop criteria for QC
  • Education and training
  • To advertise ECDC and other European Union health agencies on issues related to antimicrobial susceptibility testing and detection of resistance determinants relevant to public health
  • To collaborate with international groups
  • To work towards international consensus and harmonisation of clinical breakpoints and antimicrobial susceptibility testing

The map displaying current uptake of EUCAST guidelines is shown here or in the See also links below. They also have a useful newsletter detailing the latest updates.

Other organisations include the FDA and CLSI over in the USA.

UK NEQUA organise external quality control for the UK but others can apply.

Finally, all countries are encouraged to form a NAC (National AST Committee) which helps laboratories implement good laboratory practices in the field of susceptibility testing. Find the chair persons of NACs by clicking here.

This article is from the free online

Introduction to Practical Microbiology

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education