Although laboratory biosecurity is a relatively new concept to many, biosafety has been an established discipline for several decades. These fields have recently been elevated in prominence for a number of reasons, including laboratory acquired infections associated with SARS, the anthrax attacks in the US postal service, and renewed interest in the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), together with emerging issues relating to the rapid growth of biotechnology and concerns over the potential for illicit use of such technologies.
However, despite significant investments in this field during the last decade, and progress made in strengthening biorisk management, many countries remain without effective regulatory and oversight mechanisms, and levels of awareness are often low amongst regulators and laboratory personnel alike. In addition, basic information relating to laboratory design and operating parameters is often confusing, with a lack of evidence to underpin many commonly used controls.
Developing countries in particular often struggle to implement solutions which have been designed for use in other parts of the world where different working conditions prevail. Adequate support services are also needed to operate laboratories. However, effective supplier networks, maintenance provision and other basic measures are often unavailable to those most in need.
At present there is no overarching framework or global strategy in this area to provide strategic direction to ensure that investments are planned and implemented appropriately to meet these needs. Without such strategic planning, biorisk management runs the danger of failing to meet the objective of delivering solutions that allow countries to build stand-alone capacity and capability.
This plan sets out a basis and rationale for WHO’s role in supporting the measures and mechanisms required to move towards the objective of supporting safe and secure environments in and around every laboratory in the world.
Laboratory Biorisk Management Strategic Framework for Action 2012–2016
Number of pages: 16
Publication date: 2012
WHO reference number: WHO/HSE/2012.3
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