Earlier this year, GHD/EMPHNET, in collaboration with Iraq Ministries of Health and Agriculture (MoH) and (MoA) conducted an assessment of biosafety and biosecurity capacities in 16 public and animal health laboratories. This assessment was conducted across eight Iraqi governorates: Babel, Baghdad, Dyala, Karbala, Karkouk, Najaf, Salah Al-Deen, and Wasit.
Although the analyzed data revealed a significant degree of adherence to international standards of biological and laboratory safety, the assessment still revealed significant gaps related to biosafety and biosecurity principles implementation, lack of SOPs and procedures related to risk assessment and mitigation, and deficiencies in pathogen inventory and sharing agreements.
Based on these results, GHD/EMPHNET prepared a training curriculum that focused on reducing the identified gaps. Two back-to-back Biorisk management training workshops were then implemented. Taking place in Baghdad between November 17-22, 2018, the workshops targeted 70 laboratory professionals from the Iraqi public and animal health laboratories.
During these workshops, participants trained in topics relevant to laboratory SOPs, laboratory incident management and response, hazard and threat identification, containment levels and facility design, biosafety and biosecurity guidelines, biological safety cabinets, waste management, pathogen inventory and more. The workshop’s sessions also offered insight on the challenges that laboratory professionals face in Iraq when working with biological agents and handling infectious disease samples.
This training was implemented as part of a project titled Strengthening Iraqi Biosafety and Biosecurity Practices for Public Health and Veterinary Laboratories, which is designed to create opportunities for knowledge sharing and capacity building. More specifically, this training aimed to enhance the skills of the public health and animal health laboratorians, thus enabling them to work safely and securely with Biological samples, and to prevent and respond to intentional and natural biological risks.