Mitigating Biosecurity Gaps through Adoption of Robust Pathogen Inventory Systems in the North-African Region
Any national action plan to improve biosecurity capacity should start with an initiative to account for and secure materials that represent proliferation risks. Without an accurate national overview, it is difficult to develop and maintain appropriate measures to prevent, prepare for, detect and disrupt the misuse of biological agents, and develop effective legislation. This indicates that a national inventory is not only significant for compliance with comprehensive international frameworks that advance biological nonproliferation objectives, it also allows partnering with non-scientific stakeholders, such as policymakers, to establish biosecurity legislation and promote biorisk management.
A comprehensive record of dangerous pathogens is still not in place in many countries, which is recognised in the Joint External Evaluation reports from the World Health Organization (WHO JEE). Nations are called on to take appropriate measures to secure and account for dangerous pathogens against misuse, since it is recognised that countries often have difficulties in identifying which laboratories possess said dangerous pathogens.
The goal of the project is to help governments determine which dangerous pathogens are in fact present in their country, which helps governments to assess biosecurity needs in order to strengthen preparedness and response to infectious disease outbreaks and prevent deliberate misuse of dangerous pathogens. In addition, the data from the national inventory can be used as the basis for establishing appropriate biosecurity assessments and monitoring systems. The project aims to replicate the successes of the “Establishment of a National Inventory of Dangerous Pathogens in the Republic of Uganda” in the following countries: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia.
A software tool for a national inventory of dangerous pathogens has already been implemented in Uganda by RIVM, but national-level differences require feedback and adjustment of the tool to ensure buy-in and effective deployment of solutions. The RIVM team will develop an open access methodology, including a software tool, for the selected countries to set up a national inventory of dangerous pathogens according to best practices. RIVM staff members from the Laboratory for Zoonoses and Environmental Microbiology and the Biosecurity Office are involved.
Contact at RIVM: Rik Bleijs.
This project is funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, Office of Cooperative Threat Reduction (ISN/CTR) through CRDF Global. CRDF Global provided a subcontract to RIVM to enable RIVM to execute the project.