VITAL-EQA: About the Program

What is the VITAL-EQA Program?

The maintenance of high quality laboratories measuring biochemical indicators is essential, because the results generated are used to direct government policy about supplementation, food fortification, and other nutritional interventions. As part of the global effort to strengthen the capacity of nutrition laboratories, Wageningen University and CDC established the VITAL-EQA program in 2003.

The VITAL-EQA program is a standardization program designed to provide labs measuring nutritional markers in serum with an independent assessment of their analytical performance. The program assists labs in monitoring the degree of variability and bias in their assays. Information received from the program can then be used to –

  • Eliminate bias or precision problems in the assay system.
  • Confirm the quality of analysis and increase the confidence level of the lab.

Participation in VITAL-EQA is voluntary and free of charge. Results are not used for accreditation or certification.

When are the samples shipped to participating labs?

Two shipments of serum samples are sent per year (May and September). Each shipment includes nine serum samples to be run in duplicate over a period of 3 consecutive days. Participating labs must be able to receive samples sent on dry ice, retrieve them from customs at the airport, and be responsible for any costs associated with customs. Labs must also commit to complete sample analyses and provide results within a specified timeline (about 6 weeks).

Who administers the program at CDC?

The Global Micronutrient Laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plays an active role in the CDC-wide IMMPaCt program (International Micronutrient Malnutrition Prevention and Control Team). Through IMMPaCt, CDC contributes its skills and resources to the global effort to eliminate micronutrient malnutrition.

The aim of CDC’s Global Micronutrient Laboratory Program is to apply state-of-the-art laboratory science to eliminate micronutrient malnutrition worldwide. The goals of this program are as follows:

  • Build lab capacity through technical support, training, and technology transfer for epidemiologic studies, health surveys, and evaluations of nutrition interventions.
  • Support the development of low-technology methods and “field-friendly” technologies for assessing nutritional status.
  • Develop reference methods and materials as an accuracy base.
  • Provide external quality assurance programs for nutritional indicators.

The VITAL-EQA program helps labs maintain and improve the quality of their measurements for biochemical indicators for B-vitamins, CRP, iron, and vitamin A.

If you are interested in participating in the program, or would simply like further information, please contact us at