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Bangladesh is a country in southern Asia, in the Ganges River delta, on the Bay of Bengal. In recent years laboratory capacity has grown to meet the needs of diagnosing illnesses and conducting research on endemic and emerging pathogens in humans and animals in Bangladesh. Human Nipah outbreaks in Bangladesh are unlike other Nipah outbreaks as they exhibit person-to-person transmission and recur in a specific region almost annually during the winter and spring. Both the National and International organizations in Bangladesh are working in collaboration with US CDC teams investigating the Nipah outbreaks. Despite global efforts to combat tuberculosis (TB), the disease remains a major public health problem worldwide, especially in developing countries such as Bangladesh. The major zoonotic bacterial diseases recorded in Bangladesh are Anthrax, Tuberculosis, Brucellosis, Salmonellosis, Campylobacteriosis and Leptospirosis, of which only Anthrax has been reported as clinical outbreaks form in both the humans and cattle. All types of emerging, reemerging and neglected zoonotic diseases are widely prevalent and pose a great threat to human health, animals and environment in Bangladesh.

Person-to-person transmission of Nipah virus in Bangladesh is reported. This is most commonly seen in the family and caregivers of infected patients. Transmission also occurs from direct exposure to infected bats. A common example is consumption of raw date palm sap contaminated with infectious bat excretions. B. anthracis is transmitted to the human population by contaminated meat, with the most recent outbreak occurring 2010-2011. Like surrounding countries, Bangladesh also has had reported cases of H5N1 in birds that have culminated in human infections. Animal diseases are diagnosed and/or researched at the Bangladesh Agrucultural University (BAU), Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (CVASU), Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute (BLRI), Central Disease Investigation Laboratory (CDIL), and the Field Disease Investigation Laboratories (FDIL) in different areas of Bangladesh.

The establishment of the Bangladesh Biosafety & Biosecurity Association (BBBA) was initiated in August 2011 (http://virtualbiosecuritycenter.org/blog/op-ed-enhancing-biosecurity-and-biosafety-in-bangladesh) to foster best and sustainable biosafety and biosecurity practices in Bangladesh considering the current situation of infectious diseases outbreaks and increasing demands for research and diagnostics of these disease-causing agents. Virtual Biosecurity Center (VBC) and Biosafety Biosecurity International (BBI) supported the initiation of the activity regarding the formation of BBBA. icddr,b played the key role organizing and hosting all those activities. Enhancing Biosafety biosecurity by inculcating local scientists in the ethical considerations of conducting life-sciences research and the development of codes of conducts for such research; promoting local leadership for a sustained Biosafety Biosecurity presence; and laying the foundation to create a Bangladesh Biosafety and Biosecurity Association (BBBA), which can promote codes, support local learning initiatives, and as a professional society play a role in promulgating national Biosafety and Biosecurity legislation is a holistic approach.

The benefits envisioned by the Association are:

  • A coordinated national biosafety and biosecurity network;
  • Standardized biosafety, biosecurity and containment procedures and practices;
  • Expert knowledge accessible to national regulatory groups in all aspects of biological safety and security;
  • Development and advancement of national biosafety and biosecurity expertise.

BBBA is working for strengthening Biosafety and Biosafety in Bangladesh in association with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta. Given the need to conduct baseline assessments of microbiological and biochemical research laboratories in Bangladesh, an appropriate assessment tool was developed. Using this tool, assessments were conducted in selected microbiology laboratories by the resource persons of BBBA. Training modules were developed to sensitize different levels of stakeholders at the division levels using the platform of BBBA. Advocacy and sensitization programmes for all the divisions in Bangladesh are also ongoing involving the trained trainers of BBBA. Resource persons were further identified for all divisions and were given proper training and be mentored to work as an independent expert in their respective regions. Biosafety and biosecurity training materials have been adapted, and are translated to Bangla and planed to disseminate those broadly through this website. National guidelines for handling, storage, transportation, and manipulation of biohazardous materials are drafted. Based upon the needs identified through assessments and experience gathered from the nationwide sensitization programme immediate, short-, mid-, and long-term plans have been proposed to enhance the biosafety and biosecurity practices in Bangladesh, to control and contain spread of tropical and infectious diseases.

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