October 19, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) has, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), concluded a two-day regional Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) consultation for laboratory strengthening.
The meeting, at the Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel in Freetown, brought partners as well as participants from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone together to initiate and build consensus around an inclusive roadmap framework for the implementation of GHSA across Africa.
Speaking during the opening of the meeting, ASLM’s Board Chairman, Trevor Peter, highlighted the development of a framework for practical and innovative approaches to establishing functional public health laboratory networks for GHSA, and discussed strategies for reconstruction of tiered national laboratory systems and networks in the Ebola affected countries, among others, as the objectives of the consultation.
Also, Dr. Magaret Lamunu, on behalf of the Country Representative of WHO, Dr. Nordstrom Anders, stated that GHSA is an effort by nations, international organisations and civil society to accelerate progress toward a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats.
She added that it seeks to promote global health security as an international priority and also spur progress toward full implementation of the WHO International Health Regulations 2005 (IHR), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS) and other relevant global health security frameworks.
According to her, the vision of the GHSA is to have a world safe and secure from global health threats posed by infectious diseases, naturally occurring outbreaks and international or accidental releases of dangerous pathogens.
“In fact, today’s Global Health Security Risks are the emergence and spread of new microbes. The objectives of the GHSA are to prevent epidemics, detect biological threats early and rapidly respond to disease outbreaks, whether naturally occurring, internationally produced or accidentally caused,” she said.
Dr. Lamunu stressed that it was imperative that countries have systems, policies and procedures in place to prevent or mitigate avoidable outbreaks.
On his part, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah noted that the GHSA provides a framework to come together and establish collaboration between countries and organisations to accelerate progress towards a world safe and secure from the threats of infectious diseases.
“I am pleased to note that through Global Health Security Agenda we are building linkages between our nations with the aim of strengthening our ability to prevent, detect and respond to emerging infectious diseases. We need broad shoulders to respond to these challenges,” he said.
He added that the enhancement of bio-security and countering biological threats are also an important element of the global non-proliferation agenda.
Ambassador Bonnie D. Jenkins from the US Department of State and Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs had this to say: “The GHSA will accelerate progress to build capacity, stimulate investment and empower countries to achieve focus goals in specific areas. African leaders show extraordinary leadership in responding to the Ebola outbreak.”