NTI’s Global Biological Policy and Programs team (NTI | bio) partnered with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the Africa CDC Southern Africa Regional Collaborating Centre (RCC) to convene more than 50 experts from the Southern African region on June 24-26 in Johannesburg. This was the first technical workshop of Africa CDC’s Initiative to Strengthen Biosecurity and Biosafety, which was launched at the 2019 Global Biosecurity Dialogue in Addis Ababa.
The workshop sought to develop strategies for addressing biosecurity and biosafety capacity gaps at both the national and regional levels. It also aimed to advance steps to fill these gaps, including through the development of a continent-wide framework for a high-consequence pathogens and toxin list and related legislation, regulation, and guidance.
Workshop participants, who included key staff from human health, animal health, academia and defense/security communities, developed concrete actions to address biosecurity and biosafety challenges common across all participating Southern African countries. The actions will be implemented in coordination with the existing efforts such as national action planning in response to Joint External Evaluation (JEE) scores and global health security action packages. These include steps to:
- Develop or strengthen biosecurity and biosafety legislation and regulations
- Improve training for biosecurity and biosafety professionals
- Raise awareness among officials and political leaders about emerging biosecurity-related risks
- Develop sustainable, safe, and secure laboratory capacity.
The Southern Africa RCC, with strong leadership and support from the Africa CDC, committed to track regional progress toward achievement of the World Health Organization (WHO) JEE biosecurity and biosafety targets by providing expertise, regional coordination, and the political support required to address these challenges.
The workshop was held in collaboration with South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, the Zambia National Public Health Institute, and the University of the Witwatersrand, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Global Affairs Canada’s Weapons Threat Reduction Program, and the Open Philanthropy Project.
Learn more about the Global Biosecurity Dialogue Project here.