Implementing GHSA Biosafety Goals in Mali in Partnership with Civil Society
GHSA planning activities under Action Package 3 recommend that countries develop a strategic plan, informed by a policy framework, to guide the development and implementation of a national whole-of-government oversight program for pathogen biosafety and biosecurity. In October 2016, the Mali Association for Biosafety & Biosecurity (MABB) received funding from Global Affairs Canada to strengthen the Malian national system for biosafety and biosecurity. Collaborators on the project include the International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA), the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Pen Management & Development Consultants (PMDC).
In the midst of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Senegal’s infectious disease service ensured that the country’s first case was also its last.
That case was a 21-year-old man from Guinea who had traveled to Senegal, bringing the virus with him. When he presented at the Infectious Disease Service at Fann University Hospital, the presence of the virus was confirmed through diagnostic testing. Following their training, hospital staff followed biosafety protocol to prevent further spread of the illness. They also tracked individuals who had been in contact with the patient and enacted quarantine and monitoring measures. As a result of this swift and controlled action, Ebola did not spread further into Senegal, and the patient—who survived—was the country’s only confirmed case during the outbreak.
Health workers in Tanzania are staying up late for the sake of their country’s health. They are so committed to their country’s efforts to prevent an epidemic that they often wait until the wee hours, when network connectivity is most reliable, to upload local data about emerging threats into the national disease reporting system.
“Sometimes I have to wake up at midnight so that I can send the weekly report—otherwise it will not be possible due to connectivity problems,” explained a clinical officer at a dispensary in the country’s Kilimanjaro region.
Difficulty with network connectivity is among the challenges that PATH and its partner, RTI, identified while assessing obstacles to electronic integrated disease surveillance and response (eIDSR) in Tanzania.
A cholera outbreak in 2015 highlighted the importance of consistent, rapid disease reporting and response to contain the spread of an outbreak. Engaging and connecting all stakeholders in the fight against diseases like cholera is essential so that the public officials and health workers alike can be informed and educated on the best strategies for prevention.
International Federation of Biosafety Associations Advancing the Global Health Security Agenda
The IFBA is a vital GHSA partner, facilitating partnerships between our worldwide network of biosafety associations and national governments in the implementation of Action Prevent Prevent – 3: Biosafety & Biosecurity goals and objectives.
Progress to Date
To assist countries in achieving GHSA APP-3 targets, the IFBA has:
Joined the JEE Alliance, a platform for facilitating multi-sectoral collaboration on health
security capacity building and International Health Regulations implementation;
Partnered with the Global Health Security Agenda Consortium, a global network of non- governmental stakeholders committed to helping make the world safe and secure from threats posed by infectious diseases;
Worked collaboratively with its 39 regional and national member biosafety associations to advance biorisk management practices & procedures;
Expanded partnerships between civil society and national governments in developing a whole-of-government national biosafety & biosecurity framework including oversight and enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance;
Certified the competency of biosafety professionals in the safe and secure handling of infectious disease agents.
To date, 379 professional certifications have been awarded by the IFBA to individuals from 44 countries. Another 247 professional certifications are in progress.