• He recommended that donors and recipients agree on both financial and managerial transition plans so that the recipient is ultimately able to run the facility without further aid.
• Elected officials, Ministers, and senior laboratory management can help formulate a national plan, allocate budgets for maintenance and improvements, and establish regulatory frameworks. Typically, however, educational and awareness-raising activities are required to engage the desired leaders.
• The local economy, ideally, should provide services, reagents, and equipment, but development and investment are typically required before this can become a reality.
• Technical information is commonly available from a variety of sources including regional biosafety associations, the International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA), and government ministries, but the information often requires translation and distribution.
• Similarly, online resources, such as the IFBA1 and American Biological Safety Association2 (ABSA) websites, offer a wealth of training materials and examples of guidelines and standards, but most need translation into the local language. Furthermore, many training programs do not use adult education techniques, making them less effective than they could be.
Dr. Reed said that regional biosafety associations can help communicate with the government, establish local credentialing systems, offer twinning and mentoring services, and distribute training materials, but the capacity of many is still developing. Ideally, donors would work with regional and national biosafety organizations to avoid duplicating training and other efforts.
Dr. Reed also addressed the benefits of recipients developing a national implementation plan that balances human and animal disease efforts, creates a national regulatory framework, focuses on laboratory consolidation rather than expansion, emphasizes international collaborative relationships, and identifies funding for creating a professional biosafety society and national biosafety training centers.
Biosafety and Biosecurity Challenges in the Caribbean Region
Valerie Wilson (Caribbean Med Labs Foundation [CMLF], Trinidad and Tobago) shared the results of a recent regional biosafety assessment by CMLF.3
Ms. Wilson started by introducing CMLF and the 23 countries in the Caribbean region that it serves. The member countries speak different languages and vary widely in population and per capita income. She noted that the Caribbean is the most tourism dependant region in the world with visitors from North America, Europe, China, and India, and that the large number of tourists makes the region vulnerable to a number of communicable diseases, which could have a major impact on the economy and the local population.
She explained that CMLF’s objectives include developing a supportive environment for high quality regional laboratory services; advocating at the highest levels for laws, regulations, and laboratory accreditation; mobilizing resources to strengthen laboratories; and creating a regional sustainability strategy.
To best determine how to achieve its goals, CMLF undertook a regional assessment. CMLF asked medical labs, public health labs, veterinary labs, agriculture labs, labs that test for zoonotic diseases, and food and water labs a total of 204 questions in 20 categories addressing
1 Available at: http://www.internationalbiosafety.org/english/index.asp. Accessed August 29, 2011.