Taking Action to Advance Biosecurity and Biosafety Globally

On Monday November 5, the Netherlands and NTI | bio co-hosted a side event in support of the GHSA Action Package on Biosafety and Biosecurity, “Taking Action to Advance Biosecurity and Biosafety Globally: Charting the Future for the Action Package on Biosafety and Biosecurity (APP3).”

  • Bali, Indonesia

On Monday November 5, the Netherlands and NTI | bio co-hosted a side event in support of the GHSA Action Package on Biosafety and Biosecurity, “Taking Action to Advance Biosecurity and Biosafety Globally: Charting the Future for the Action Package on Biosafety and Biosecurity (APP3).”  The event convened more than 90 senior officials and experts from across sectors and focused on three major themes:

  1. Announcements of new actions
  2. Need for financing to support biosecurity and biosafety milestones included in National Action Plans following Joint External Evaluations
  3. Interactive discussion to inform the next phase of APP3 and the next phase of the NTI Global Biosecurity Dialogue (GBD)

Biosecurity was identified as an under-resourced priority within the GHSA – in fact, despite rising biological risks, 70% of assessed countries still have little to no biosecurity capacity.

New Actions Announced to Improve National and Regional Biosecurity and Biosafety Capability

In June 2018, NTI | bio hosted the first annual GBD in London to accelerate actions and track progress in support of APP3 and the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.  The GBD has now identified three work streams for APP3 to carry forward over:

  1. Biosecurity and biosafety policy frameworks
  2. Biosecurity and biosafety capabilities
  3. Emerging biological risks

The GBD meeting challenged partners to identify new actions and announce them in Bali during the 5th GHSA Ministerial.  As a result, Monday’s side event included a robust set of announcements focused on new concrete actions to fill national and regional biosecurity and biosafety gaps. These announcements are outlined directly below.

  • The Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) will take new actions with in partnership with NTI in 2019 to build in biosecurity as part of its Regional Coordinating Center network.
  • Australia announced new planned biosecurity actions from the Indo Pacific Centre for Health Security including training and regional approaches to biosecurity and biosafety.
  • The ASEAN Secretariat affirmed its commitment to biosecurity as a vital part of its regional health security planning through the ASEAN Health Cluster, represented by Vice Chair Untung Suseno Sutarjo.
  • Canada has taken new actions within the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction and Public Health Agency Canada to advance biosecurity and announced support for sustainable regional biosecurity approaches in ASEAN and Africa.
  • South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases announced its intention to partner with Africa CDC and countries within the Southern African Development Community, in partnership with other key stakeholders, to build biosecurity milestones into National Action Plans following a Joint External Evaluation.
  • Ukraine will bold new steps to improve biosecurity in Ukraine – including by consolidating dangerous agents.
  • The U.S. Department of Defense announces a new emphasis on regional collaboration and leveraging other donors and collective action – including a new partnership between DoD’s Biological Threat Reduction Program and Australia’s Indo Pacific Centre for Health Security.

A few key themes emerged from these announcements.  First, speakers emphasized the importance of regional leadership with the goal of improving sustainability of developed biosecurity and biosafety capacity.  Speakers also emphasized the need for more collective action to track and measure progress using the JEE metrics.  Finally, the group highlighted the need for further focus on emerging, non-traditional threats to health security.

Panel on Financing for Biosecurity and Biosafety Milestones

Senior officials from Finland, Netherlands, Mali, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization (WHO) outlined model approaches for building and financing biosecurity milestones as part of the National Action Planning Process following a JEE.  The Government of Mali made concrete recommendations for increasing political will and financing to improve biosecurity and biosafety. Representatives from the World Bank and the WHO underscored the importance of national financing for biosecurity and biosafety milestones and incorporation of these into National Action Plans for Health Security. The WHO also highlighted the importance of biosecurity experts in Joint External Evaluations.

Next Steps for APP3 and the NTI Global Biosecurity Dialogue

To conclude the meeting, the audience participated in an interactive, provocative discussion about risk perception, biosecurity and biosafety capabilities, and addressing emerging risks. The data gathered from the audience will be used to inform future areas of focus for the APP3 and the Global Biosecurity Dialogue.


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