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Philippines WP5 - Activity 5.4 - May 2024


Project 81 mission to the Philippines delivered by Team Leader, John Jones, Conservation Medicine/Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) and supported by UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) aims to increase awareness on biosecurity and risk management. The workshop, using a combination of presentations, skill-building tabletop exercises and interactive discussions, has shown participants how to apply methodologies for the management of risks associated with the safe and secure management of impact pathogens, adapt existing methodologies in the light of international best practice and develop risk mitigation countermeasures, alongside explaining the application of those methodologies to other members of staff. 

 

We would like to thank all participants for their collaboration during the workshops. The Project 81 team is looking forward to continue working with the Philippines to delivering capacity building activities, conduct exercises to test the level of enforcement of existing legislation and local guidelines related to biosecurity and to organise supervised national workshops to train national experts. 
 

Brunei WP3 - Activities 3.1/3.3 - April/May 2024

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) emergency response team, alongside John Jones, Project Team Leader, delivered an Exercise Design and Development Training session in Brunei under Work Package 3 of Project 81. The aim is to provide refresher training and for participants to plan, conduct and consider evaluation of a simulation exercise in their own organisations and for local and regional exercises. To achieve this, the delegates designed a Table Top Exercise (TtT) for government officials which included a front-end drill to practice an un-identified bio-hazard at the border.

The objective of this exercise is to improve organisational co-ordination and communications dealing with a bio-security scenario at the border, also to clarify roles and responsibilities, to improve individual performance, to test or train communication procedures and to familiarise staff with policies and procedures.  

This initiative continues to highlight the commitment of Project 81 to strengthening biosafety and biosecurity measures in Brunei. 


 

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Laos WP3 - Activities 3.1/3.3  - March 2024

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) emergency response team, together with Project Team Leader John Jones, embarked on a mission to Lao PDR under Work Package 3 of Project 81, with a primary goal of assessing and improving the enforcement of biosecurity legislation and guidelines. This comprehensive initiative entailed evaluating the handling of high-risk biological materials, including acquisition, storage, and transport procedures, and proposing enhancements where necessary. To achieve this, the team engaged in a series of activities, beginning with the selection and training of candidates from diverse sectors, such as licensing authorities, customs officials, and relevant departments. Through a tailored capacity-building workshop held at the Lao Plaza Hotel in Vientiane, participants were equipped with the skills needed to become trainers themselves. They delved into topics ranging from the definition of high-risk biological materials to the intricacies of legal frameworks and response protocols. The training empowered attendees to plan, execute, and evaluate exercises within their organisations, ensuring a robust approach to biosecurity management.

 

Throughout the workshop, emphasis was placed on fostering practical expertise in exercise design, scenario creation, and evaluation strategies. Participants, including customs officers with prior training experience and scientific staff from health disciplines, honed their abilities to conduct thorough exercise briefings and debriefings, crucial elements in post-event analysis. By the mission's conclusion, attendees were poised to spearhead efforts to test the enforcement of biosecurity legislation and manage biological incidents effectively. The initiative underscored the commitment of Project 81 to strengthening national capacities in biosecurity across partner countries, facilitating knowledge exchange and collaboration to mitigate the risks posed by high-risk biological materials

Cambodia WP4 - Activities 4.2 & 4.3 - March 2024

Project 81 mission to Cambodia in March, led by RIVM, aims to boost Cambodia's ability to manage biological emergencies. The mission focuses on reviewing high-risk biological materials and implementing a Surge Capacity Assessment Tool. A 1.5-day workshop brings together RIVM experts and local stakeholders to review Cambodia's list of high-risk materials and plan the Surge Capacity Assessment Tool's implementation. Discussions identify gaps and lay the groundwork for improving readiness.

 

Following the workshop, the Surge Capacity Assessment Tool is deployed to evaluate Cambodia's readiness for healthcare surges during biological emergencies. This assessment guides targeted interventions to enhance response capabilities. RIVM assists in installing software for a national inventory and convenes technical working groups to develop guidelines for high-risk material lists. Collaboration ensures tailored solutions for Cambodia's needs.

Indonesia - WP 5 – Activity 5.4 - February 2024 

In February 2024, a pivotal training event unfolded at the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN: Badan Riset dan Inovasi Nasional) in Indonesia, heralding a significant stride in biosafety and biosecurity practices within the scientific community. This intensive workshop, conducted in a Train-the-Trainer (TtT) format, focused on imparting crucial skills for handling high consequence pathogens within an animal biosafety Level 3 (ABSL-3) Laboratory. The primary objective was to equip laboratory personnel from both animal and human health institutions with the expertise to cascade these essential safety protocols to their peers, adhering to international standards. 

Facilitated by experts from the EU Centres of Excellence (CoE) CBRN initiative, including representatives from UKHSA, NADP Training, and RIVM, the workshop was a collaborative effort supported by SCJS Europe and BRIN. The engagement, enthusiasm, and dedication exhibited by the BRIN team throughout the week were commendable, contributing to the comprehensive coverage of topics despite the rigorous schedule. With a newly commissioned Animal BSL-3 facility in Cibinong, Indonesia, the training was particularly timely and critical, ensuring that the laboratory staff were well-prepared to handle potential biohazards effectively. This train-the-trainer approach ensures not only the immediate dissemination of vital skills but also establishes a sustainable framework for continuous improvement in biosafety and biosecurity practices in Indonesia. 

Cambodia - WP3 - Activities 3.1/3.3 - Feb/March 2024
 

In February 2024, pivotal progress was achieved in Cambodia as part of Work Package 3, specifically under Activities 3.1 and 3.3, aimed at strengthening the enforcement of biosecurity-related legislation and guidelines. 

 

Activity 3.1 was instrumental in conducting exercises to evaluate the enforcement level of existing legislation and national/local guidelines regarding biosecurity. These exercises comprehensively assessed various aspects, including the acquisition, use, storage, transfer, import/export, trans-shipment, and transportation of high-risk biological materials. By simulating scenarios at border crossings and ports of entry, stakeholders gained valuable insights into the effectiveness of current enforcement measures and identified areas for improvement. The exercises served as catalysts for suggesting enhancements to existing protocols, thereby bolstering Cambodia's biosecurity infrastructure and resilience against biological threats. 

 

Simultaneously, Activity 3.3 focused on conducting capacity-building activities for selected candidates, with a maximum of five individuals per country. These activities aimed to equip participants with the necessary knowledge and skills to become trainers capable of disseminating biosecurity expertise within their respective domains. The curriculum encompassed crucial areas such as defining high-risk biological materials, dual-use research and technologies, information security, existing legal frameworks, technologies for detection and identification, and response protocols. Through intensive training programs, participants were empowered to develop curriculum materials and effectively impart biosecurity principles to their peers, thereby fostering a culture of vigilance and preparedness. 

 

The successful completion of these activities represents a significant milestone in Cambodia's journey towards enhancing biosecurity measures and safeguarding public health and safety. By strengthening enforcement mechanisms and building the capacity of key stakeholders, this initiative lays a robust foundation for combating biosecurity threats effectively. As trained trainers begin to disseminate their knowledge and skills, the ripple effects of these endeavours are expected to resonate across the scientific community, fostering a safer and more secure environment for all. 

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Finalised Survey Mission to Indonesia - November 2023  

 

Successful Project 81 Survey Mission in Indonesia 

 

Project 81 recently completed a productive survey mission to Indonesia on 27-28 November. The mission was conducted by team members John Jones (SCJS Europe) and Professor Christopher Logue (UKHSA) in close coordination with our valued partner BRIN (Badan Riset dan Inovasi Nasional). 

 

Building on virtual discussions held in July and August, this focused mission allowed for constructive dialogue and alignment on priority areas for collaboration between Project 81 and Indonesia. BRIN has expressed keen interest in several of Project 81's work packages, specifically: 

 

Laboratory Analysis Capacity Building (WP5) 

Enhancing Surge Capacity in Laboratories (WP7) 

Strengthening Enforcement of Regulations (WP3) 

Supporting National Inventories (WP4) 

Bolstering Physical and Information Security (WP6) 

The initial emphasis will be on providing tailored capacity building for BRIN's high-containment laboratories working in public health and animal health research under the One Health Approach. 

 

We look forward to implementing an initial set of mutually agreed activities at BRIN, with potential for further collaboration through November 2024 based on emerging needs. 

 

We are grateful to BRIN for their warm welcome and collaborative spirit throughout the mission. This engagement lays a strong foundation as we jointly work to mitigate biological risks in the region.

Brunei - WP3 - Activities 3.1/3.3 - November 2023

Successful completion of activities under WP3 in Brunei, aimed at strengthening the enforcement of biosecurity-related legislation, particularly in border control monitoring. Trainees from Royal Brunei Customs and Excise, alongside other law enforcement and regulatory bodies, participated in a comprehensive program to enhance their skills in exercise planning and evaluation. 

 

The training, conducted over three days, included presentations, group work, interactive sessions, and a field trip to the Border Crossing Point at Kuala Lurah. Participants gained a common understanding of exercise types to strengthen procedural and regulatory controls, specifically focusing on border control monitoring. 
 

On the final day, trainees created briefing presentations for future exercises, informally assessed by the training team. The visit to the Kuala Lurah Border Crossing Point provided practical insights into border control operations, influencing the design of future exercises and strengthening enforcement measures. 
 

Participants collaborated in designing exercises focused on scenarios such as radiological material release and illegal importation of substances at the border, aligning with WP3 objectives. Overall, the training equipped participants with the skills and knowledge necessary to effectively enforce biosecurity legislation, particularly in border control monitoring, contributing to Brunei's preparedness and response capabilities in various scenarios. 

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Vietnam - WP1/WP5 Risk Assessment workshop - October 2023 

We're excited to report on the successful outcomes of our recent activities and training in Nha Trang, Viet Nam, conducted from October 24th to 27th, 2023. This mission, led by Key Expert 1 and Team Leader, John Jones on behalf of SCJS Europe and supported by Junior Non-Key Experts from Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU), aimed to advance biosecurity awareness and risk management among stakeholders, in line with the objectives of our Terms of Reference (ToR). 

 

The Risk Assessment Training, contributing to Deliverables in WP1 (Raising awareness on biosecurity and biosecurity risk management) and WP5 (Improving laboratory capacity to identify accurately the type and source of disease-causing agents), focused on analysing novel pathogens to facilitate bio-forensic activities.

With 35 delegates from 16 institutions across Viet Nam, primarily from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the Ministry of Health (MOH), the workshop provided valuable insights. Pre-workshop assessments revealed varying expertise levels, with most delegates considering themselves beginners or at the foundation level. 

 

Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive, highlighting their newfound knowledge and insights gained from the training. The active engagement, particularly from veterinary laboratory staff, underscored the significance of such initiatives. The establishment of a network of risk assessors within the animal health community demonstrates the impact of EU funding through Project 81. 

 

Looking forward, we plan to offer additional training and support, including "train the trainer" programs and practical skills training on biosafety and biosecurity. Overall, the activities and training in Nha Trang were highly successful, fostering knowledge exchange and capacity building among participants, contributing to our shared goal of enhancing biosecurity capabilities. 

Cambodia - WP4 - Activity 4.2 - September 2023 

We're excited to share the latest developments from our recent mission in Cambodia under Project 81. Working closely with local authorities and esteemed partners, we've made significant strides in advancing bio-security and compliance efforts in the region. The commendation of our mission's contributions to compliance with Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and International Health Regulations (IHR) underscores the importance of our work. The value of P81 activities in preparing for the upcoming Joint External Evaluation (JEE) assessment in 2024 was also emphasized. Furthermore, key stakeholders have expressed satisfaction and unwavering support for our initiatives, highlighting the strength of our partnerships. 

 

Throughout our mission, we hosted four workshops targeting critical areas across different work packages (WP).

 

Activities under WP4 centred on revising legislation to address high-risk pathogens, with the institution leading by example in reporting pathogen holdings to the National Authority for Combating Weapons (NACW). Under WP7, our workshop on the Surge Capacity Assessment Tool empowered delegates to enhance laboratory testing throughput during pandemics, bolstering public health response capabilities.  

We extend our heartfelt appreciation to our dedicated team members and local support experts for their exceptional contributions throughout the mission. Looking ahead, we've outlined plans for subsequent missions, including training sessions and simulated exercises, to sustain momentum and extend support beyond Phnom Penh.

 

P81 aims to replicate the successful model implemented in Cambodia, fostering regional collaboration and capacity-building in other parts of the region. 

Cambodia - WP5 - Activity 5.4 - September 2023

 

WP5 Training workshops delivered; EU CBRN Project 81 BIOSEC - intense activity in Cambodia this week. Our team led by Prof Christopher Logue is working with Institute Pasteur in Cambodia to strengthen capabilities in the management of high-containment facilities.

Notably, our efforts under WP5 at Institut Pasteur focused on enhancing the operational readiness of Cambodia's only BSL3 facility, a significant milestone in strengthening bio-security.

 

All of this is designed to be aligned with obligations under International Health Regulations (IHR) and Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). Particular thanks is due to NACW for their ongoing support to our Project. ​

This is what the other half of the team were up to in Phnom Penh. Hands-on training for the frontline scientists. A great example of collaboration and sharing of expertise with EU, IPC, NIPH, NAHPRI and NACW experts all working together. I am absolutely delighted with the achievements of the project this week - appearing on Cambodian TV news was an added bonus! 

Survey Mission to Philippines  - March 2023

The survey mission in the Philippines successfully enhanced biosecurity measures through tailored outreach activities, workshops, and meetings. The agenda incorporated an initial Table-Top Exercise (TTX) and a series of site visits to facilities handling high-risk pathogens, providing invaluable insights into operational realities.

 

The strong participation from various Departments and Agencies was a testament to the concerted efforts of the National Focal Point (NFP), Deputy NFP, and the supporting team at Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) Philippines Medical Corps (PMC). Their dedication ensured a comprehensive engagement, resulting in a robust collaboration.

 

The workshop and proposals garnered a positive reception from delegates and the NFP, representing the National CBRN Team. This affirmation highlighted the effectiveness of the Survey Mission methodology in gathering evidence for post-COVID activity delivery. Formal approval of proposed activities is pending, with a projected start date set for November 2023.

 

The utilization of TTX proved immensely beneficial in exploring organizational structures for real-life scenarios and identifying areas needing clarification. Additionally, ongoing exercise development training for neighbouring countries promises to further refine command, control, and communication capabilities, strengthening regional biosecurity efforts.

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Survey Mission to Brunei - July/August 2023 


The engagement from all participating ministries and agencies during our Table-Top Exercise (TTX) was exceptional, reflecting a high level of commitment to ensuring bio-security both at the borders and within the laboratories of Brunei.  
We extend our gratitude to the Prime Minister’s Office for their exemplary support, which ensured the seamless execution of our activities. The enthusiasm and cooperation demonstrated by the Bruneian counterparts were exemplary, providing us with invaluable insights and setting a solid foundation for future collaboration. We eagerly anticipate our return later this year to build upon the progress achieved.  

Key outcomes and next steps from our mission include:  
Work Package (WP1 and WP3) progress - The demand for exercising training remains high, reaffirming our commitment to proceed with WP1 raising awareness on biosecurity and biosecurity risk management, cross-cutting biological risks (zoonoses/pests) and dual-use high-risk biological materials and relevant research and technologies, for all relevant stakeholders; improved inter-sectorial exchange and coordination with the development of response plans and procedures to handle high-risk biological materials and related biological hazards.
WP3 Strengthen the level of enforcement of biosecurity related legislation, national and local guidelines particularly border control monitoring, as per our revised plan. Our first WP3 training session is scheduled to take place in Brunei at the end of November, aligning with our initial projections.  

Refinement of training requirements for WP5 with the aim to improve laboratory capacity to identify accurately the type and source of disease-causing agents (microbial forensics). UKHSA is spearheading the distribution of a questionnaire for WP5 to refine training requirements, with potential delivery also slated for November. 

Legal Survey Adjustments for WP2 - Review national legislations and guidelines in compliance with relevant international obligations in the area of biosecurity and contribute to their effective enforcement. VERTIC will adjust the legal survey based on our findings in Brunei and forward it to the National Focal Point (NFP) for WP2.  

Advancements in WP4 Building national inventories of high-risk biological materials, dual-use research and technologies and information, based on a recognised list of high-risk biological materials, and WP7 strengthen health emergency management capabilities: RIVM will advance the work in WP4, to provide information on the bio-security self-assessment tool and the dual-use questionnaire developed by RIVM. Additionally, progress is being made in WP7 with engagements in Human and Public Health.  

Enhancements in WP6 Security framework for facilities, information and information exchange. While there is less demand for advice on physical security in WP6, the concept of providing guidance on security for less well-funded labs was well-received.  

We are immensely proud of the strides made during our mission to Brunei and remain committed to advancing bio-security initiatives in the region emphasizing not only our research efforts but also the tangible increase in bio-security awareness resulting from our Table Top Exercise and site visits. 

Survey Mission to Cambodia  - March 2023 

 

We are excited to announce the upcoming activities that Project 81 will be undertaking in Cambodia to support the delivery of their CBRN National Action Plan. After a successful Survey Mission, we have received approval to proceed with several key initiatives. 

 

Table-Top Simulation Exercise 

In June 2024, we will conduct a table-top simulation involving policy officials, NACW, scientific advisers, and responding agencies from Cambodia. This simulation will centre around bio-security scenarios to raise awareness and preparedness among participants. 

 

Legal Survey Update 

Coming in May 2023, we will provide an updated legal survey previously circulated, now translated into the Khmer language. Additionally, the model biosecurity law will be shared with Cambodia once finalized. 

 

Training for Trainers 

Scheduled for December 2023, a Training for Trainers program will be delivered to GDCE officers in Cambodia. This will focus on designing and implementing exercises to strengthen biosecurity legislation enforcement and provide awareness for border guards. 

 

High-Risk Biological Materials Workshop 

In September 2023, a workshop will convene a multi-disciplinary team of Cambodian experts to support NACW in reviewing and updating their national list of high-risk biological materials. 

 

Laboratory Training Programs 

Also in September 2023, we will design and implement laboratory training programs across Cambodia: 

 

Pathogen diagnostics training for laboratory staff, including provincial locations 

Biosecurity workshop 

Establishing a cadre of risk assessors 

Class III cabinet training 

Biosecurity Guidance Material 

Practical guidance material on "biosecurity for low-resource laboratory environments" will be developed in October 2023. Translated into Khmer, this could serve as a regional best practice resource covering physical and information security. 

 

Surge Capacity Analysis Tool 

In September 2023, software will be installed, and training provided on using the Surge Capacity Analysis Tool for applicable laboratories in Cambodia. 

 

We deeply appreciate the support of NACW and the Cambodian government in mitigating CBRN material risks. Project 81 looks forward to close collaboration on implementing these vital activities.

Survey Mission to Lao - January/February 2023 

Successful completion of the Project 81 Survey mission to Laos. The Project Team welcomed positive engagement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and our esteemed Lao colleagues. 

During our time in Laos, our primary focus was on advancing awareness of biosecurity and enhancing biosecurity risk management. We engaged in constructive dialogues concerning cross-cutting biological risks such as zoonoses, pests, and the management of dual-use high-risk biological materials. Our objective was to foster a comprehensive understanding of these critical issues among all relevant stakeholders. 

The main activities undertaken during our mission are as follows: 

A.1.1 Identification of Relevant National Ministries and Executive Agencies: 

We diligently identified key national ministries and executive agencies responsible for bio-risk management, encompassing sectors such as agriculture, health, research, industry, trade, and other pertinent domains. Establishing robust working relationships with these entities was pivotal for fostering effective collaboration and knowledge dissemination. 

A.1.2 Promotion of Common Understanding of Biosecurity: 

Central to our mission was the promotion of a unified understanding of biosecurity and biosecurity risk management among stakeholders. Through facilitated discussions and provision of pertinent resources, we aimed to ensure alignment on the definition and approach to addressing biosecurity challenges.

 

Our endeavours aimed at facilitating enhanced inter-sectorial exchange and coordination among stakeholders, while also working towards the development of comprehensive response plans and procedures to adeptly manage high-risk biological materials and associated hazards. 

P81 National Simulation Exercise Thailand
16 - 18 November 2022

Project 81 Lead, John Jones OBE, opens the exercise

 

 

EU CBRN CoE Project 81 BIOSEC  facilitates the delivery of a national-level Simulation Exercise in partnership with Thailand’s Department of Medical Sciences

 

One of the main aims of Project 81 which is funded by the EU is to raise awareness of the security issues associated with handling high-risk biological material – including highly infectious pathogens.  Whilst most scientists and technicians are very familiar with safety guidance including the use of protective equipment, it is often true that they are less conversant with the potential risks of deliberate misuse of those pathogens.

Project 81 had started to provide consultancy services, awareness-raising workshops and specialist training sessions but within a few months of the project launch SARS-CoV-2 struck. The impact of COVID-19 has been extensive and, in addition to creating the obvious delays to other international projects, because of the subject matter of Project 81 the pandemic has caused a shift in priorities which could not have been anticipated when the project was designed. Flexibility has therefore become the key to successful delivery of the aims of Project 81.

A good example of the success of this more flexible approach is the facilitation and resourcing of a major national Simulation Exercise (SimEx) in partnership with Thailand’s Department of Medical Sciences which is part of the Ministry of Health.  Thailand identified three areas which could be supported by Project 81, one of which was the design and implementation of the SimEx to validate arrangements for dealing with the release of an infectious disease in a neighbouring country. The location selected for the SimEx was the Regional Medical Sciences Centre No 8 (RMSC8) in Udon Thani.

The Project 81 experts planned the outline scenario and designed the management arrangements for the exercise which were then refined and adopted by the Thai team. During the planning process there was a gradual hand-over of responsibility from the Project to the Exercise Controllers from the RMSC until the exercise went “live” and was entirely managed by Thai colleagues.  There were 80 participants at the exercise drawn from all RMSCs across Thailand with representation from the National Institute of Health (NIH), Food and Drag Administration (FDA) and the National Institute of Animal Health.  Here is the link to the official news release

 

This was an excellent illustration of collaboration and sharing of expertise between EU and Thailand. In addition, the team at Udon Thani are now fully confident in the design and management of future exercises and can provide consultancy support to other RMSCs if they wish to deliver their own exercises. 

The P81 consortium team is led by Sustainable Justice Criminal Solutions (Europe) from Belgium with partners including the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA),  the Dutch National Laboratories from the Netherlands (RIVM) and the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC) from the UK.

Confidence Building Measures workshop for Lao People PDR

Project 81 Key Expert Legal Sonia Drobysz participates in CBM workshop for Lao People PDR

On 3 and 4 November 2022 in Vientiane, Lao PDR, the European Union Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative (EU CBRN CoE), under EU CBRN CoE Project 62 (On-Site Technical Assistance to Southeast Asia), offered national authorities from Lao PDR hands on training on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) under the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). This workshop, led by Prof. Irma Makalinao of the Philippines, was a tremendous example of intra-regional cooperation aiming to strengthen compliance with the BWC and build transparency through the CBM mechanism.

 

Project 81 Key Expert Legal Sonia Drobysz (Co-Programme Director for National Implementation at the Verification, Research Training and Information Centre) joined virtually on 3 November for a session focusing on Lao PDR’s implementing legislation for the BWC. As part of Work Package 2 of the project, VERTIC’s National Implementation Measures Team is working with partner countries, including Lao PDR, towards strengthening biosecurity legislation. This involves preparing comprehensive analyses of countries’ legislation for the implementation of the BWC, measures for personnel accessing biological agents and toxins, and the International Health Regulations, with a view to identifying gaps and areas requiring strengthening. During the workshop, Sonia presented the methodology and findings of Lao PDR’s BWC legislation survey, and explained how it could inform the preparation of CBM Form E on relevant legislation for the BWC.

 

Supporting the enhancement of biosecurity in South East Asia

EU CBRN CoE Project 81 ‘BIOSEC - Enhanced Biosecurity in South-East Asia’ is led by the implementer Sustainable Criminal Justice Solutions in cooperation with other European entities. The project aims at providing a set of tools for improving biosecurity management systems in South East Asia with a focus on capacity-building directed at highly communicable diseases with global catastrophic potential, including pandemics.

Launched in 2019, BIOSEC is active in Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.

Project 81 contributes to the development of Singapore’s Biorisk Code of Conduct for Life Sciences Industry and Professionals

On 29 June 2022 the Biorisk Association of Singapore (BAS) launched Singapore’s Biorisk Code of Conduct for Life Sciences Industry and Professionals, an important document that seeks to prevent the potential misuse of life sciences by promoting a culture of responsibility amongst those involved in activities with biohazardous materials.

 

The Code was developed by the BAS with support from Singapore’s Ministry of Health. Project 81 legal experts also provided comments on the Code’s drafts and presented on dual-use research governance during the online launch event. This contribution furthers the objectives of Project 81’s Work Package 2 which focuses on the review and strengthening of Partner Countries’ biosecurity legislation in-line with relevant international instruments.

 

The Code aims to ensure the promotion of best practices stemming from the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention, UN Security Council Resolution 1540, the International Health Regulations and WHO biosecurity guidance, as well as compliance with relevant national acts and regulations. It lays down appropriate principles of ethical standards, awareness raising, risk assessment and mitigation, oversight and accountability, and communications.

 

Scientists, research institutions, industry and funding agencies in Singapore are encouraged to incorporate elements of the Code in their institutional and company practices, protocols, and guidelines.

The COC can be accessed from this link: https://biorisk.sg/home/2022/09/13/the-singapore-biorisk-code-of-conduct-for-life-sciences-industry-and-professionals/.

 
Project 81 BIOSEC: Making Progress in a Pandemic by John Jones, P81 Project Leader, 23rd May 2022

 

As part of our project plan, the Project 81 team created a risk register in 2019. Amongst the risks listed was, “Natural disasters and infectious diseases”. Our proposed risk mitigation measure at that time was, “If it becomes unsafe or logistically impracticable to conduct a visit, training or workshop at the scheduled time, the Project Team Leader will seek to defer the visit and reschedule once the risk has passed.

 

Whilst we can congratulate ourselves on correctly identifying the risk, who could have predicted in 2019 that the time for the risk to pass would be in excess of two years?

 

In terms of project delivery, the main “casualty” of the pandemic continues to be the various in-country and regional workshops which have been rendered impossible by travel or quarantine restrictions and the fact that the main target audience for P81 is composed of the staff dealing with real-life public health issues. In addition, the ebbs and flows of the disease have brought with them constantly shifting restrictions on travel and self-isolation – often introduced at short notice.

 

Moving forward has therefore demanded a degree of flexibility which would have been impossible to anticipate when the original project plan was put in place. Nevertheless, flexibility in our approach has been the key to making progress during this period.

 

A good example was a visit to the National Focal Point in Bangkok as soon as restrictions eased in December 2021, which enabled some fact-finding and the joint identification of options for the future.

 

Some of the project work packages were always designed to be carried out mainly by correspondence – for example, the surveys of legislation in partner countries which are being delivered by a combination of questionnaires, desk-based research and online meetings with officials. Thanks to the continuing support of the National Focal Points, most of those surveys are now ready for review.

As vaccination programmes roll out and travel restrictions begin to ease across the SEA region further missions are now being planned for the coming months.

 

 

CBRN CoE Project 81 Webinar: “Trends in Project 81 Partner Countries’ Legislative Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic”
https://youtu.be/3Azun5HwnMc

 

On 27 January 2022, Project 81 BIOSEC – Enhanced Biosecurity in South-East Asia hosted a webinar entitled “Novel pathogen detection and sequencing”, There were  33 delegates from partner countries and international organisations participating in the event. The main aim of the webinar was to explore the different legal and regulatory tools applied to the control of COVID-19

The webinar was opened by Mr. John Jones, Team Leader and Key Expert for Project 81, who gave a brief overview of the project, with a welcome address from Attorney Florentino Manalastas, Alternate Head of Regional Secretariat for South East Asia.

 

After a short update from the Team Leader, Dr Sonia Drobysz and her colleagues in VERTIC, delivered an analysis of the trends in legislation as part of the overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic with a particular focus on the international picture and the International Health Regulations and other legal obligations as well as the regional response in ASEAN countries.

 

CBRN CoE Project 81 Webinar: “Waste Management in Pandemics”

 

On 11 August 2021, Project 81 BIOSEC – Enhanced Biosecurity in South East Asia hosted the latest webinar in a series of webinars dedicated to developing surge capacity to respond to pandemics within the framework of the European Union Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative (EU CBRN CoE).

The webinar was opened by Mr. John Jones O.B.E., Team Leader and Key Expert for Project 81, with welcome addresses from Atty. Florentino Manalastas, Jr., Assistant Head of the CBRN CoE Regional Secretariat for South East Asia (RS SEA) and Dr. Robert Frank, Regional Cooperation Officer for SEA for Global and Trans-Regional Threats. A panel of experts, including Dr. Christopher Logue, Public Health England (PHE), Dr. Alexander Hamilton, CBRN CoE Regional Coordinator for SEA, and Dr. Sabai Phyu, On-Site Assistance (OSA) Expert for SEA, were available to take questions from delegates.

The featured presentation was delivered by Mr. Thomas Pottage (PHE) who described the latest scientific data on the viability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on a variety of surfaces and the implications for the management of waste materials generated in a variety of environments including healthcare and domestic waste.

The webinar attracted 55 delegates from across the SEA region as well as Barbados, Ghana, and Australia. Delegates posed questions about legislation and practical measures for the inactivation of waste (including waste water). Further information provided by PHE can be found in the 'Learning' section of this website.

CBRN CoE Project 81 Webinar: “Surge Capacity Assessment Tool”

 

On 21 July 2021, Project 81 BIOSEC – Enhanced Biosecurity in South-East Asia hosted a webinar as the first in a series of webinars dedicated to developing surge capacity to respond to pandemics within the context of the EU CBRN Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative.

The webinar was attended by 73 delegates (predominantly from within the SEA region) and was opened by Mr. John Jones O.B.E., Team Leader and Key Expert for Project 81, with welcome addresses from Attorney Florentino Manalastas Jr., Alternate Head of the CBRN CoE Regional Secretariat for South East Asia, Manila, and Dr. Robert Frank, Regional Cooperation Officer for South-East Asia – Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (Global and Trans-Regional Threats).

In his remarks, Atty. Manalastas spoke to the importance of WP7 as a means of supporting Partner Countries in South East Asia to not only more effectively respond to COVID-19 but also to be more fully prepared for future pandemics. Dr. Frank, in his address, described the overall context of Project 81 within the CBRN CoE Initiative and welcomed all participants.

Detailed presentations on the use of the newly-created Surge Capacity Assessment Tool (SCAT) for Laboratories were provided by Dr. Joris Sprokholt and Dr. Iris Vennis of the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). A short panel discussion at the end of the webinar gathered perspectives from Prof. Stuart Blacksell, MORU Thailand, Dr. Tessy Joseph from the National University of Singapore and Dr. Nguyen Thanh Thuy of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Viet Nam.

The next webinar in the series will be held on 11 August 2021 and will address Waste Management issues during pandemics and future webinars will  focus on End-to-end laboratory diagnosis (September), Preparedness and rapid response (October), New Variant sequencing (November) and Legal frameworks in pandemics (December). E-learning packages will be made available for some of the topics listed.



'Developing Surge Capacity for Pandemics' - Launch of Webinar Series - 30th June 2021

The project team is pleased to announce a series of monthly webinars that commence on the 21st July and continue through to the end of the year.
The first webinar will introduce an assessment tool for laboratory managers and operational personnel. The tool is designed to assist in the identification of areas which might require additional attention as part of preparations for a future or emerging epidemic. In due course invitations to all events will be circulated through National Focal Points.
Whilst final topics are yet to be confirmed, themes such as 'Preparedness & Response', 'End to End Laboratory Diagnosis' and 'New Variant Sequencing' are likely to be covered.


Webinar - WHO Laboratory Biosafety Manual, 4th Edition - 9th February 2021
 
Prof. Stuart Blacksell led the latest in the series of webinars sponsored by the CBRN CoE Regional Secretariat for South East Asia. Entitled "Release of new WHO Laboratory Biosafety Manual, 4th Edition: Implications for Labs in Low and Middle Income Countries and the Development of WHO COVID-19 Biosafety and Biosecurity Guidance", the webinar was well attended with a high volume of participation. 
For those unable to attend the materials from the webinar will be available for the next 7 days at the following link - https://we.tl/t-inNaCUkzP4






 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Work Package 7 - COVID-19 - Launch Webinar - 24th November 2020
 
Team leader John Jones and project experts from VERTIC, PHE and RIVM launched a new workstream for the Project which is specifically focussed on COVID-19. Introduced as an additional work package by the European Commission, following the outbreak of the global pandemic, National Focal Points and key stakeholders were introduced to the approach, themes and online learning platforms planned to be used as part of the delivery mechanism. Conducted using Zoom, the webinar provided the opportunity for discussion and the sharing of thoughts across the region.

 

Regional Secretariat Webinars - October 2020


Our project team continued to support UNICRI and the EU CBRN Regional Secretariat for South East Asia with its COVID-19 related series of webinars throughout the month of October. On the 20th October, Dr's VU, Ngoc Long, NGUYEN Cong Khanh, NGUYEN Thanh Thuy and NGUYEN Dang Tho shared Viet Nam's experience of COVD-10 control and response. A week later Dr. Maria Suleiman relayed the Malaysian experience.

Project Co-ordination Meeting - 8th September 2020
Our next coordination meeting with key individuals from DG DEVCO, EU Regional Secretariat, Project 81 Key Experts and UNICRI is set for Tuesday the 8th September.

Webinar on 'Biological Inventory Database' - Friday 4th September


Dr Joris Sprokolt & Dr Saskia Rutjes from RIVM will be the guest speakers on this webinar organised by the Biorisk Association of Singapore & EU CBRN CoE.

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Webinar - 18th August 2020

The seventh webinar in the series run by the CBRN CoE Regional Secretariat for South East Asia will be presented by the project team who will provide "An overview of International Activities in Response to COVID-19 - Part 2". 

 

Date/Time: 

Tuesday 18 August @ 5pm (Manila time) / 11am (Brussels time)

 

Register for the webinar:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_5Ma2FsXgReGzJdNWTo6mgw

 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

 

Please feel free to share this invitation with others.

Webinar - 4th August 2020

The sixth webinar in a series run by the CBRN CoE Regional Secretariat for South East Asia will be presented by CBRN CoE Project 81 - BIOSEC, who will provide "An Overview of International Activities in Response to COVID-19".

Details are as follows:

Date/Time: 

Tuesday 4 August @ 5pm (Manila time) / 11am (Brussels time)

To join Zoom Meeting:

https://zoom.us/j/95194231713?pwd=VExWMTJzczVzU1N5d2MvMkdURndXUT09 

Meeting ID: 

951 9423 1713 

Passcode: 

830837 

Please feel free to share this invitation with others.

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Project Update 22/7/20
The fifth in a series of webinars hosted by the CBRN CoE Regional Secretariat took place yesterday. Focused on sharing experiences and knowledge on the subject of COVID-19, colleagues from Brunei Darussalam delivered a presentation on laboratory construction.  
 

Project Update 14/7/20
The European Commission have agreed to extend the project by six months due to the impact of the global pandemic. Project activity will now conclude on the 26th May 2023. In addition it has been agreed that a dedicated COVID19 work package will be included in the terms of reference.

Project Update: 3/6/20
The first CBRN CoE interregional tele-workshop took place today. The experiences of the United Arab Emirates in containing a cluster outbreak during a cycling tour on Yas Island (UAE) in February 2020, was presented by three representatives of the Emirati National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA), led by Mr Ahmed Al Shemeili (UAE NFP).

Project Update: 20/4/20
The global impact of COVID-19 has resulted in activities being limited for the foreseeable future until such times as restrictions are lifted which allow for project activity to resume. However the project team continue to speak regularly and discuss different means by which project activity can be achieved. Communication with points of contact in partner countries and key stakeholder organisations continues our level of engagement with the region.

A recently published EU COVID-19 factsheet outlining the EU's work in region highlights the work of this project. In respect of COVID-19 this project is considering introducing some relevant activities into the scope of the project.

Myanmar, 10 to 12/3/20:
Project team leader John Jones, travelled to Myanmar to conduct an initial workshop with partner countries. Despite the impact of COVID-19, representatives from Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Viet Nam attended and contributed to a well supported and mutually beneficial event.
Video links to colleagues and the project team in Europe worked successfully and progress was made towards a working definition of 'Biosecurity' and data capture.

Bogor, 10/12/19:

Indonesia hosts the 17th National Focal Points Roundtable Meeting for Southeast Asia of the EU CBRN CoE. CBRN CoE Project 81 launched.
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