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by Fredrick Ngugi, at 08:00 am, July 27, 2016, Tech & Innovation

West African Scientist in Quest for Total Biosafety

A woman sorting out waste for recycle. Photo (Africa Fashion Guide)

With the ever-rising threat to security in Africa, particularly from terrorism, disease outbreaks, and climate change, the entire African continent is faced with the task of adopting new and more effective biosafety measures to guarantee security for its people. Diseases, such as Ebola, AIDS, and yellow fever are a real threat to Africa’s progress considering that the whole continent is still starved of proper medical research equipment and personnel. It is for this reason that Dr. Toure, an Ivorian geneticist, has embarked on a mission to promote and improve biosafety in West Africa through training.

Dr. Toure, who is the president of the Association for Biosecurity in Cote d’Ivoire (ABCI), says the lack of biosecurity knowledge, which protects humans and animals against disease and biological agents, among scientists and medical practitioners in West Africa has been one of the greatest challenges his organization has faced for the five years it has been operational.

“When you ask people about biosecurity, nobody knows how to answer. They simply don’t know what it is,” Dr. Toure told CRDF Global.

Funding

With the small amount of funds his organization is able to raise, Dr. Toure has been educating laboratory technicians, medical practitioners, and first aid response personnel across the Ivory Coast on matters to do with biosafety.

Although providing training was initially challenging due to the lack of funds, Dr. Toure says he is now able to offer practical lessons to medical doctors, biological researchers, and nurses in major cities across the Ivory Coast with the help of the Biosecurity Management Enhancement Grant Program (BMEG).

BMEG is an international program that offers funding to individuals who can make a big impact in reducing biorisk in their companies, institutions, and home countries. The program is supported by the U.S. State Department’sBiosecurity Enhancement Program.

This program was established with the goal of increasing biosafety and biosecurity through technical consultations, risk assessments, training courses, and building human capacity and internal expertise to create a sustainable culture of laboratory biorisk management.

Success

In the course of his training, Dr. Toure has been able to sensitize all stakeholders in the biosafety sector on issues dealing with biocontainment and laboratory design, effective use of personal safety equipment, biological decontamination and sterilization, and the safe transportation of biological materials and infectious substances.

His projects have encouraged a resilient culture of biosafety in the Ivory Coast, creating opportunities for him and his organization to expand their activities to the rest of West Africa.

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