Op-Ed – The Bangladesh Biosafety & Biosecurity Association: Taking Action to Promote and Foster Local Biosecurity and Biosafety Initiatives and Training

Dr. Asadulghani
President, BBBA
Head, Biosafety & Biosafety Level 3 Laboratory, icddr,b
Mohakhali, Dhaka, Bangladesh

The establishment of the Bangladesh Biosafety & Biosecurity Association (BBBA) was initiated in August 2011 to foster best and sustainable biosafety and biosecurity practices in Bangladesh considering the current situation of ongoing infectious disease outbreaks and increasing demands for research and diagnostics of these disease-causing agents in Bangladesh. The Virtual Biosecurity Center (VBC) provided a grant and together with Biosafety Biosecurity International, assisted in the initiation of activity regarding the formation of BBBA. The icddr,b (International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh) played a key role in organizing and hosting activities that brought the country’s scientific community together to form the BBBA, and continues to advocate and further the BBBA’s goals in many ways, including providing a venue for training events. In January 2012, the BBBA began the process of filing necessary documents to become a non-profit professional organization with By-Laws, Policies and Procedures, formed an Executive Committee (EXCO) with representation across numerous institutions working in the life sciences, and launched a website with recommended resources for the community. The BBBA EXCO meets almost monthly to tend to administrative business, but more importantly to plan and develop educational outreach materials and training through symposia, the Association General Meeting and workshop (September 20-22), and national biosafety and biosecurity training curricula. One example of a recent accomplishment is described below.

The first National Symposium on “Endorsing Biosafety & Biosecurity: Prospects and Challenges” was held on May 26, 2012 at Sasakawa Auditorium, icddr,b. The symposium was organized by icddr,b and BBBA. The Deputy Executive Director of icddr,b, Dr. Abbas Bhuiya, delivered the welcome address and extended his enormous support on the ongoing Biosafety & Biosecurity activity nationwide, the Vice Chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Professor Dr. Pran Gopal Datta, graced the occasion by delivering his address as Chief Guest. Nine speakers from eight different institutions provided presentations in the scientific and concluding sessions. The presentations represented the broad range of institutes that endorse biosafety and biosecurity in Bangladesh. Clinical and public health laboratories, the National TB Reference Laboratory, medical and agricultural research institutes, and the academic sector, described their efforts and needs in biosafety and security, including measures to protect the environment, food chain and during field trials. The concluding session included an interactive discussion session focused on the prospects and challenges for endorsing and enhancing biosafety and biosecurity.

Endorsing biosafety and biosecurity in biomedical research and diagnostic laboratories is not the task of an individual. Everyone has to come forward and develop and train staff with the knowledge and understanding of biosafety and biosecurity. Considering this, the formation of BBBA is very timely since biosafety and biosecurity training is now required nationwide for employees and students working with biohazardous agents at the commencement of their work. Professor Dr. Pran Gopal Datta mentioned in his address that “I support the initiative of BBBA and understand that endorsing biosafety and biosecurity is the basic need for the research and diagnostic laboratory.”

Though the BBBA is a relatively new association, our members and leadership have a lot of momentum and are continuing to make rapid strides and work with all of our colleagues in the life sciences to foster and enhance biosafety and biosecurity principles, practices, and capabilities in our country. To learn more about BBBA, please visit our website at http://bdbiosafetysecurity.org/.