Expanding Biosafety & Biosecurity in Afghan Biomedical Laboratories

Saturday, 14 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Redi Gul Alami, Ministry of Public Health, Kabul, Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s public health sector requires robust laboratory health services in order to increase capacity for surveillance, diagnosis and outbreak response. The Ministry of Public Health expanded laboratory diagnostic capacity in partnership with the US Naval Medical Research Unit #3 (NAMRU-3) and the Afghan National Public Health Institute (ANPHI) with a focus on the implementation of biosafety and biosecurity activities necessary for developing a strong national laboratory program and preventing the misuse or theft of dangerous pathogens. Four laboratory facilities were targeted for initial improvements: the Central Public Health Laboratory, Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, Kabul Infectious Diseases Hospital and the Afghan National Army Hospital. All were outfitted as BSL-2 laboratories. PCR and ELISA machines, biosafety cabinets and CO2 incubators were purchased. Local language Standard Operating Procedures, flow-charts and Material Safety Data Sheets covering equipment use, waste disposal, sample handling and accidental exposure response protocols were developed according to the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) 5thEdition and implemented in newly developed biosafety trainings for laboratory staff. ANPHI has recognized these new materials as part of the new National Laboratory Policy Document which will be applied to the entire laboratory network of Afghanistan. This document was used to apply for additional funding from The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for the establishment of regional reference labs and a national laboratory network in Afghanistan. More than 30 labs at the regional and provincial levels have been renovated and the laboratory staff have received trainings. Three regional labs will soon be equipped for PCR, ELISA and bacteriology and 12 provincial labs for bacterial culturing services. The continued expansion and monitoring of biosafety and biosecurity procedures in Afghan lab facilities as outlined in the National Laboratory Policy Document will support expanded laboratory health services for the Afghan people and fulfill international biorisk management regulations.