20 May 2021
Measurement for Health

May 20 is World Metrology Day, commemorating the anniversary of the signing of the Metre Convention in 1875. This treaty provides the basis for a worldwide coherent measurement system that underpins scientific discovery and innovation, industrial manufacturing and international trade, as well as the improvement of the quality of life and the protection of the global environment.

The theme for World Metrology Day 2021 is Measurement for Health. This theme was chosen to create awareness of the important role measurement plays in health, and thus in the wellbeing of every one of us.

Across the world, national metrology institutes continually advance measurement science by developing and validating new measurement techniques at the necessary level of sophistication. The national metrology institutes participate in measurement comparisons coordinated by the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) to ensure the reliability of measurement results worldwide.

The International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML) develops International Recommendations, which aim to align and harmonise requirements worldwide in many fields. The OIML also operates the OIML Certification System (OIML-CS) which facilitates international acceptance and global trade of regulated measuring instruments.

These international metrology systems provide the necessary assurance and confidence that measurements are accurate, providing a sound basis for global trade today and helping us to prepare for the challenges of tomorrow.

World Metrology Day recognises and celebrates the contribution of all the people that work in intergovernmental and national metrology organisations and institutes throughout the year.

Message from the BIPM and BIML Directors
World Metrology Day
20 May 2021

Martin Milton
Director of the BIPM

Antoni Donelan
Director of the BIML-a

Measurement for Health

World Metrology Day in 2021 comes at a time when the world is focussed on making a quick and effective recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The speed and severity with which the virus impacted people around the world at the beginning of 2020 forced governments to respond rapidly. Right from the beginning, new measurement requirements emerged, starting with the need for large-scale testing for the presence of the virus and the performance of personal protective equipment. Subsequently, the development of vaccines has depended on accurate identification and measurement of complex protein and RNA molecules.

The enormous scale of these requirements has changed national priorities globally; governments have re-focussed established science capabilities to meet the challenge of protecting their populations from the impact of the virus. The metrology community around the globe has been involved with these new national and global challenges, and has used its established experience of measurement science to address national needs such as by:

  • setting up systems to test masks needed for personal protection,
  • contributing to the design and testing of new ventilator systems needed in hospitals,
  • identifying and counting virus molecules in test samples, and
  • measuring the efficacy of vaccine doses.

This has been possible because of established technical capabilities to support many of the measurements needed to protect and improve health. These include:

  • developing international standards for all types of medical devices with a measuring function, including automated blood-pressure instruments, ophthalmic instruments and medical syringes,
  • underpinning clinical laboratory testing by ensuring that measurements made by medical thermometers are in line with the internationally recognised temperature scale,
  • ensuring that patients experience the correct dose of X-rays during diagnostic procedures, and
  • providing the basis for accurate therapeutic doses of radiation in the treatment of cancer.

We chose the theme “Measurement for Health” for World Metrology Day this year to draw attention to the importance of measurement to support the protection of health. It comes at a time when the experience and capabilities invested in metrology organisations around the world have been turned at short notice to address new national health challenges.

We wish you a very successful World Metrology Day 2021 and look forward to receiving your posters and details of any events you are holding.

Source: World Metrology Day

Note: The WMD Team did not proofread the translation of these texts.