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Bangladesh is located in the low-lying Ganges-Brahmaputra River Delta, on the Bay of Bengal, with a population around 160M. The delta plain of the Ganges, Jamuna, and Meghna rivers and their tributaries occupy 79 percent of the country. Four uplifted blocks occupy 9 percent, and steep hill ranges up to ca 1,000 m high occupy 12 percent in the southeast and in the northeast. Bangladesh straddling the Tropic of Cancer, with a tropical monsoon climate, characterized by heavy seasonal rainfall, high temperatures, and high humidity. Natural disasters such as floods and cyclones accompanied by storm surges periodically affect the country. Most of the country is intensively farmed, with rice the main crop, grown in three seasons. The country has an area of 147,610 square km and extends 820 km north to south and 600 km east to west. Bangladesh is bordered on the west, north, and east by a 4,095 km land frontier with India and, in the southeast, by a short land and water frontier (193 km) with Myanmar. On the south of the country is a highly irregular deltaic coastline of about 580 km, fissured by many rivers and streams flowing into the Bay of Bengal. The territorial waters of Bangladesh extend 12 nautical miles (22 km), and the exclusive economic zone of the country is 200 nautical miles (370 km).

 

Background

Developing countries need to be in a position to establish systems of governance that diligently and judiciously respond to national and international developments associated with biotechnology. Modern biotechnology offers powerful tools for improving human health, agricultural productivity, environmental sustainability, and nutritional quality of staple foods. These technologies are helping to guide more precise human and animal disease diagnosis and treatment, crop and livestock breeding efforts, to diagnose crop and livestock diseases, and to develop more effective human and livestock vaccines. It is believed that safe technique advances research science and safe science is a good science. To perform safe techniques it is the perquisite to have a safe laboratory environment. The laboratory requires knowledgeable, trained, and experienced laboratorians to run the laboratory system and its functions. Most importantly, in-depth knowledge in the field of Biosafety and Biosecurity and theoretical and hands on training in this area is considered as the basic qualification for working in a microbiological or biomedical research or diagnostic laboratory. One of the most pressing global public health challenges is the ongoing threat of infectious diseases. Strengthening the capacity for public and veterinary health systems to detect, report, and control infectious disease outbreaks is essential to disease control and should be a top priority for ensuring a healthy nation. Thus, laboratory capacity is growing to meet the needs of diagnosing illnesses and conducting research on endemic and emerging pathogens in humans and animals in Bangladesh.

Highly Pathogenic Infectious Diseases 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. 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. 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. B. anthracis is transmitted to the human population by contaminated meat, with the most recent outbreak occurring during 2010-2011. Like surrounding countries, Bangladesh also has had reported cases of H5N1 in birds that have culminated in human infections. 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. 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).

Initiation of Biosafety and Biosecurity Society

The establishment of the Society was initiated in August 2011 (http://virtualbiosecuritycenter.org/blog/op-ed-enhancing-biosecurity-and-biosafety-in-bangladesh) as a professional society 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 the Society. icddr,b played the key role organizing and hosting all those activities. Enhancing Biosafety and 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 Biosafety and Biosecurity Society, which can promote codes, support local learning initiatives, and as a professional society can play a role in promulgating national Biosafety and Biosecurity legislation is a holistic approach.
The benefits envisioned by the society are:
  1. A coordinated national Biosafety and Biosecurity network;
  2. Standardized Biosafety, Biosecurity and containment procedures and practices;
  3. Expert knowledge accessible to national regulatory groups in all aspects of biological safety and security; and
  4. Development and advancement of national Biosafety and Biosecurity expertise.

Society Activities

Society 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 the Society. Training modules were developed to sensitize different levels of stakeholders at the division levels using the platform of the Society. Advocacy and sensitization programs for all the divisions in Bangladesh are also ongoing involving the trained trainers of the Society. 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 program 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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