Engaging Public Representatives in Biosecurity and Pandemic Preparedness

In support of the Signature Initiative to Mitigate Biological Threats in Africa

November 8, 2021

1600 - 1900 SAST
1400 - 1700 GMT
0900 - 1200 EST

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other recent large-scale disease outbreaks in Africa, including the Ebola viral outbreaks of West Africa (2014-15) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (2018-20), have underscored that infectious disease outbreaks can have devastating, whole-of-society impacts. While focus must remain on ending the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a no less urgent requirement for the wider international community to come together with partners in Africa to take bold, coordinated action to build sustainable health security capacities, thereby better enabling countries to prevent, detect, and respond to future infectious disease threats to humans and animals, whether natural, accidental or deliberate in origin.

In this context, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the Governments of Canada and the United Kingdom, and representatives of the Government of South Africa have come together to convene this high-level virtual conference on Engaging Public Representatives in Biosecurity and Pandemic Preparedness. This conference is organised in support of the Signature Initiative to Mitigate Deliberate Biological Threats in Africa, which is being jointly implemented by the G7-led Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction and Africa CDC.

This conference will focus on South Africa, a continental leader on health-security and biosecurity, and will engage public representatives, parliamentarians, and decision-makers in Africa, whose support is essential for the enactment of legislation/regulations and the appropriation of adequate resourcing for sustainable biosafety and biosecurity. The conference aims, inter alia, to:

  • develop a common understanding of the methods required to prevent, detect, and respond to deliberate, accidental, and natural biological events;
  • enable effective development, financing, and communication strategies for comprehensive policies and legislative actions, using the Africa CDC Biosafety and Biosecurity Legislative Framework as a guide;
  • advocate for the establishment of a recognized professional programme for biosafety and biosecurity though a Regional Training and Certification Programme;
  • identify practical ways to minimize and remove barriers to data and information sharing and developing legal and ethical public policy tools to gather and share epidemic and biorisk intelligence; and
  • advocate for strong multi-sectoral Southern African leadership to develop and expand regional capabilities to prevent, detect, and respond to biological events.