leaders in the sectors of health, agriculture, national education, scientific and technological research, trade, and environment. However, in discussions with other public health leaders, it was clear that the DRC is both aware of and committed to strengthening its biosafety and biosecurity framework. The DRC is party to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (ratified on February 8, 2005) and, in partnership with the Global Environment Facility administered by the United Nations Environment Program, has begun to establish a national biosafety framework in order to address potential risks associated with the use of modern biotechnology.
Although there are several highly dangerous pathogens endemic to the country, research on these pathogens appears to occur primarily in partnership with other countries that have dedicated biosafety level 3 or 4 (BSL-3 or -4) laboratories and expertise outside Africa. Congolese scientists would like to greatly improve both their capacity and their capability to conduct comprehensive diagnostics and characterization of strains isolated within their borders as well as to have a reference or training laboratory for other institutions in Africa. In the human health sector, Ebola and other hemorrhagic viruses, avian influenza, poliomyelitis, tuberculosis, HIV, anthrax, plague, monkeypox, African sleeping sickness, rabies, diarrheal diseases, malaria, and Buruli ulcers are of high diagnostic priority. From both the veterinary and the conservation perspectives, Ebola (especially in endangered primates), rabies, brucellosis, plague, blackleg, anthrax, foot-and-mouth disease, diarrheal and chronic wasting diseases in hoof stock, and a variety of parasitic maladies represent illnesses of major clinical interest. Although there is a basic disease surveillance system in place, data collection, analyses, alerting systems, and rapid response in remote regions of the country still remain largely inefficient and uncoordinated.
Budget, personnel, and other challenges in upgrading biosecurity
Budgets for biosafety, biosecurity, biomedical education, advanced laboratory equipment, and even basic research at key public health institutes and universities (for example, the University of Kinshasa, the University of Lubumbashi, and the University of Kisangani) are insufficient. More training and career placement are required to develop specialists in biosafety, biotechnology (especially microbiology, molecular biology, and immunology), international law, medicine (human and veterinary), information technology, and public education, especially with regard to the tenets of the Cartagena Protocol.
Interests and programs of foreign organizations and interests of local government in international engagement on biosecurity issues
Ministry officials and researchers strongly support cooperative capacity-building programs with the European Union, the United States, and other