NTI’s Global Biological Policy and Programs (NTI | bio) partnered with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in November to sponsor a series of trainings for nearly 60 experts from 14 countries in the Western 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 Western Africa biosecurity and biosafety training series on Nov. 17 and 24 emphasized immediate biosecurity and biosafety actions countries can take, such as proper sample handling, storage, and transport of SARS-CoV-2 material. It also 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 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.
NTI continued this seminar series into December with two technical working group meetings. The first focused on Western 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 sought to identify new actions in Western Africa 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 meetings 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 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 West African Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency.