situation. As BSL-3 containment space is very expensive to build, operate, and maintain, and working at the BSL-3 level is less efficient (e.g., protective clothing, entry/exit procedures, and medical surveillance) than working at lower containment levels, he argued that overdesign and unnecessary use of BSL-3 labs should be avoided.
To ensure that all needs are met without resorting to overdesign, the IFBA BEN recommends that a laboratory planning and programming phase precede the design phase of lab construction. This programming phase should involve architects, engineers, and scientists, and answer the questions that will drive the design including defining the pathogens and standard operating procedures to be used, the diagnostic tests to be performed, and the number of samples to be processed. He suggests the discussion produce a risk assessment that defines the containment requirements and the facility’s architectural and mechanical concepts. In particular, IFBA BEN recommends not over-designing BSL-2 and support spaces and balancing electronic and operational solutions (e.g., considering visual signage instead of electronic door interlocks). Simple architectural solutions such as epoxy-based paint on gypsum board for interior BSL-3 walls and simple mechanical solutions such as limiting the number of Class II, Type B2 BSCs, which are difficult to install and maintain, should also be considered.
Mr. Ugwu concluded by mentioning that the IFBA BEN is also exploring options for recognizing qualified certifiers. He explained that while several national authorities including Singapore and Canada have accredited certifiers, there is no accredited international certification program for biocontainment facilities. Nor is there a detailed set of criteria for international certification as the WHO Laboratory Biosafety Manual contains only general certification guidelines.
Sustaining Regional and National Biosafety Associations: Challenges and Considerations
Teck-Mean Chua (Asia-Pacific Biosafety Organization [A-PBSA], Malaysia) discussed the need for biosafety associations (BSAs) and the factors that contribute to the success and sustainability of professional organizations.
Dr. Chua argued that as we are all exposed to collective risks (e.g., emerging and re-emerging diseases and bioterrorism) that do not respect national boundaries, we also share a collective responsibility and should take collective action. He believes that BSAs can help focus and direct that action at the national, regional, and international levels and observed that in recent years, many national and regional biosafety organizations have been created as has IFBA.
He has found no set rule as to whether national or regional BSAs should come first. As an example, he noted that the A-PBA formed at the regional level in 2005 and then proceeded to assist members in forming national associations. He feels that starting at the regional level was logical given that the Asia-Pacific region is a hotbed for emerging and re-emerging disease outbreaks and that severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and other outbreaks had created a sense of regionalization among the generally small countries. However, he indicated that it is also possible for existing national organizations to band together into a regional organization.
Dr. Chua emphasized that new associations should ensure that they have a multi-disciplinary membership from the beginning. Members should include scientists, administrators, engineers, architects, and technicians and a variety of agencies including those responsible for human health, animal health, and domestic security. All desired countries should be represented, and an association should welcome members from outside its borders.
He also suggested that an association’s organizational structure facilitate collective leadership and be flexible enough to respond to future challenges. He reminded the group that BSAs, like all nonprofits with expenses, need realistic business plans and should (1) identify