ARCHIVED - Success Story #3

 

CAREID Strengthens Biosafety Capacity in South-East Asia

The Canada-Asia Regional Emergency Infectious Diseases (CAREID) project continues to build lasting capacity in South-East Asia to detect and respond effectively to emerging infectious disease outbreaks by strengthening biosafety capacity in its partner countries.

In the past year alone, through the Biosafety pillar of the CAREID project, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) with financial support from the Canadian International Development Agency has delivered training on biosafety, advanced biorisk management and transportation of dangerous goods.

Mary Louise Graham, CAREID Technical Lead on Biosafety, shows participants proper hand washing techniques through the use of glow germ kits.

Mary Louise Graham, CAREID Technical Lead on
Biosafety, shows participants proper hand washing
techniques through the use of glow germ kits.

“Infections know no boundaries,” said Dr. Mary Louise Graham, CAREID Technical Lead on Biosafety. “By assisting the international community to develop capacity to detect and prevent the spread of disease, we are also helping to ensure the health and safety of Canadians at home.”

In October 2011, Dr. Mary Louise Graham helped implement biosafety and biocontainment best practices in CAREID participating countries. She led a train the trainer workshop for CAREID partner country participants with hands on training exercises and tools to help them support the improvement of their own local and regional biosafety capacities.

The project sponsored CAREID delegates to attend the 1st conference of the Association of Biosafety for Australia and New Zealand (ABSANZ). This inaugural conference provided an opportunity to strengthen their regional networks in addition to the technical knowledge gained by all in attendance.

Interests of the CAREID countries were represented at the “Asia Pacific Biosafety Strategy Session” and the “International Federation of Biosafety Meeting”. The meetings focused on identifying urgent gaps and priorities with recommended actions to advance biosafety and biosecurity; with a particular emphasis on building long-term sustainable capacity in the Asia-pacific region.

Project successes included the identification of Biosafety Champions in Cambodia and Laos, and triggered interest from the Philippines and Vietnam to provide training in their respective countries. To note, Vietnam has already begun training for their laboratories.

“It gives me great pleasure to see the fantastic work that our partner countries have already achieved since our biosafety training sessions took place,” said Graham.

In late 2011 and early 2012, Dr. Stefan Wagener and Marianne Heisz, CAREID Biorisk Management and Biosafety experts, delivered biosafety training and advised on biosafety standards and guidelines.

Dr. Wagener worked with Cambodia, Lao PDR, and the Philippines to improve these countries’ abilities to officially ship infectious substances by air. Using training materials originally developed by the World Health Organization, the workshop covered how to safely prepare infectious substances for shipment; including how to classify, document, mark, label and package them using dry ice. All of the participants made significant progress in their understanding of the international regulations governing the transport of infectious substances and many of them received their international recognized certification.

Participants at the Biorisk Management 
Workshop practicing risk assessment.

Participants at the Biorisk Management
Workshop practicing risk assessment.

Dr. Stefan Wagener also delivered a biorisk management training workshop for CAREID partner country participants. The course introduced participants to key concepts of laboratory biosafety and biosecurity management.

“By improving laboratory safety and security in laboratories around the world, we directly protect Canada from accidental and/or intentional releases of infectious substances,” said Dr. Wagener.

In a highly interactive workshop environment, incorporating the latest adult learning techniques, Dr. Wagener focussed on risk assessment, risk mitigation and overall safety program performance. Workshop participants not only became more aware of modern tools to address risks associated with biological materials in the laboratory, they also experienced a totally new learning and training style. During the workshop in Vietnam, the topic of bioethics was introduced promoting ethical and secure work with biological agents.

“This workshop was uniquely conducted,” said Dr. Edith Tria, Medical Specialist VII, from San Lazaro Hospital, with the Department of Health in Manilia Philippines. “Participants were made to think, stretching their minds out to do their best to come out with solutions - which in reality will happen in their own workplace.”

Dr. Wagener with participants at the Advanced Biorisk Management 
Training Workshop in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Dr. Wagener with participants at the Advanced Biorisk Management
Training Workshop in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Most recently, Heisz assisted Vietnam in the development of national biosafety regulations, standards and guidelines. She worked very closely with Vietnamese officials from the Ministry of Health and the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology to review these documents, and assist in the development of frameworks for the implementation of Vietnam’s national biosafety program.

Through the CAREID project, Canada also meets both domestic and international obligations under the WHO’s International Health Regulations, by helping other countries detect and prevent the spread of diseases which can potentially cross borders. Early detection of national and international infectious disease disasters will save lives, reduce social stress and save money.

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