NTI’s Global Biological Policy and Programs (NTI | bio) partnered with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in February to sponsor a series of virtual trainings for nearly 50 experts from six countries in the Northern African region with the goal of reducing accidental and deliberate biological risks, including those associated with COVID-19. The effort builds on NTI’s Global Biosecurity Dialogue and advances the Africa CDC Initiative to Strengthen Biosecurity and Biosafety, a continent-wide effort launched in 2019 to protect Africans against the deliberate or accidental release of dangerous pathogens by strengthening their biosecurity and biosafety systems in compliance with the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005), the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), and United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540.
COVID-19 highlighted the urgency of preparing for biological threats, including preventing future outbreaks whether naturally occurring, deliberate, or accidental. The Northern Africa biosecurity and biosafety training series held on February 1st and 8th emphasized immediate actions countries can take to reduce risks of the accidental or deliberate dissemination of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. It featured modules on disinfection and decontamination best practices, proper PPE use, and biosecurity considerations, including physical security, personnel reliability, and material control and accountability, among others. Regional experts shared their biosafety and biosecurity successes and challenges during outbreaks, including COVID-19, and discussed ways to build longer-term sustainable biosecurity and biosafety capacity based on regional gaps identified through the WHO Joint External Evaluation (JEE), local National Action Plans for Health Security, and the Global Health Security Index.
NTI continued this seminar series into February with two additional technical meetings. These virtual discussions focused on identifying new actions in Northern Africa that promote measurable progress toward achieving the biosafety and biosecurity targets of the WHO Joint External Evaluation and obligations under the BWC and UNSCR 1540. These discussions were designed in cooperation with the Africa CDC to advance the African Union’s Initiative to Strengthen Biosecurity and Biosafety.
Related: Previous Workshops: NTI | bio Partners with Africa CDC to Build COVID-19 Biosafety and Biosecurity Capacity in Western Africa; NTI | bio Partners with Africa CDC to Build COVID-19 Biosafety and Biosecurity Capacity in Eastern Africa; NTI | bio and Africa CDC Convene Biosecurity and Biosafety Experts from Central Africa; NTI | bio and Africa CDC Convene Biosecurity and Biosafety Experts from Southern Africa.
This workshop series is a collaboration among the African Union, the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and NTI. Support for NTI’s role in this series is generously provided by Global Affairs Canada’s Weapon Threat Reduction Program and the Open Philanthropy Project.