EU funded awareness raising meeting on biosafety and biosecurity conducted in Islamabad

Islamabad, 10 April, 2018: Under the EU funded Project 53 (P53) of the EU Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear and risk mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative (EU CBRN CoE), an awareness raising meeting on Biosafety and Biosecurity issues for Pakistan was conducted on 9-10 April 2018, Islamabad. The meeting was organized in close cooperation between the EU team of implementers (ISTC, SCJS, PHE, VERTIC and RIVM), the Pakistan National Institute of Health and the EU Delegation to Pakistan.

In 2017 Pakistan joined the EU CBRN CoE Initiative and P53, which is titled ‘Strengthening the National Legal Framework and Provision of Specialized Training on Bio-Safety and Bio-Security in Central Asian Countries’. The awareness meeting was the first official activity of the CoE Initiative and P53 in Pakistan.

The meeting was opened by Dr. Malik Muhammad Safi, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Ms. Anne Marchal, Minister Counsellor of the EU Delegation to Pakistan, Dr. Aamer Ikram, Executive Director of the National Institute of Health, Ms. Fanny Fert, Regional coordinator, UNICRI, Mr. Henk Visser, P53-project manager, ISTC.

In his opening statement Dr. Safi Malik indicated that ‘Pakistan is strongly committed to its obligations under the International Health Regulations, and was the first country in EMRO to undergo the voluntary Joint External Evaluation of the 19 technical areas, which included Biosafety and Biosecurity’. Ms. Anne Marchal from the European Union Delegation stated that “the EU CBRN CoE initiative aims to strengthen regional security by increasing local ownership, local expertise and long-term sustainability. EU is very glad that Pakistan joined the EU CBRN CoE Initiative last year and is now actively engaging on bio-safety and bio-security under the Regional Secretariat for Central Asia.”

The meeting was attended by representatives from the National Institute of Health, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination, National Disaster Management Authority, National Agricultural Research Centre, National Health Emergency Preparedness & Response Network, Universities, Medical Schools and Research Hospitals, WHO, US CDC and other relevant organizations.

The aim of the meeting was to raise awareness with national stakeholders on the importance of bio-safety/security issues and highlight the importance of cross-ministerial and regional cooperation, legislation and training within this area. Additionally, the P53 scope was introduced and best approach on how to implement P53 within Pakistan was elaborated.

The project was conceived and funded within the framework of the EU CBRN CoE ( initiative. The CoE currently covers 8 regions and 60 partner countries. The EU CBRN CoE Secretariat for Central Asia is based in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. It works in partnership with countries to encourage local ownership of CBRN action plans, policies and joint preparation of regional project proposals.

The ISTC, implementer of P53, has funded and managed several hundred projects in Central Asia over the past 20 years. Expertise to implement P53 is provided by a UK-led consortium of international legislative experts (SCJS, VERTIC), and bio-safety and bio-security training experts (PHE, RIVM).