The NTI Global Biological Policy and Programs team (NTI | bio) partnered with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to sponsor a series of trainings for nearly 100 experts from 14 countries in the Eastern African region with the goal of reducing accidental and deliberate biological risks, including those associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. NTI hosted these events on June 17, 24, and July 1 as a series of three online seminars. The effort builds on NTI’s Global Biosecurity Dialogue and partnership with the African Union 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 has highlighted the urgency of preparing for biological threats, including preventing future outbreaks whether naturally occurring, deliberate, or accidental. The East Africa biosecurity and biosafety training series emphasized immediate biosecurity and biosafety actions that should be taken related to sample handling, storage, and transport of SARS-CoV-2 material and 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. Experts also discussed longer-term sustainable biosecurity and biosafety development and regional gaps identified through the WHO Joint External Evaluation (JEE), local National Action Plans for Health Security, and the Global Health Security Index.
Related: Wilmot James and Hayley Severance Op-Ed in South Africa’s Daily Maverick: “A sustained focus and finance are needed to deal with all biological threats.”
NTI will continue this seminar series through July with two technical working group tracks. The first track will focus on Eastern Africa’s contributions to the African Union draft legislative framework for biorisk management and a region-wide consensus list of High Consequence Agents and Toxins. The second track will identify new actions in the Eastern Africa region level that promote measurable progress to achieve the biosafety and biosecurity targets of the WHO Joint External Evaluation and obligations under the BWC and UNSCR 1540. Both tracks were designed with Africa CDC to advance the African Union Initiative to Strengthen Biosecurity and Biosafety.
Related: Previous Workshops: 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, and the U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency.