Delawie speaks at Washington health and security conference

Greg Delawie, the deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of Arms Control's Verification and Compliance Department, spoke about biodefense on Wednesday at the International Conference on Health and Security in Washington.

Delawie discussed the implementation of the Bio-Transparency and Openness Initiative that was introduced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the Seventh Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference in December. One collaborative activity prompted by the initiative was a tour of the biodefense facilities at Fort Detrick, Maryland, in July.

"(The tour) provided a clearer picture of how the many parts of the U.S. government contribute to our biodefense programs and presented a new window for our guests into how we collaborate with each other and our international partners for the benefit of the public at large," Delawie said. "It is our impression that in addition to the tour, briefings provided by the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Agriculture on the scope of our biodefense efforts were also well-received by the ambassadors who participated. I believe, we achieved in our goal to remove misconceptions about ongoing research and showcase that our biodefense work is overwhelmingly open and public."

Delawie said the purpose of the International Conference on Health and Security was to build partnerships for the prevention, detection, preparedness and response of biological threat prevention. He said these partnerships must be built whether the cause of the outbreak is malicious, natural or accidental.

"It is important to recognize that in today's interconnected world, infectious diseases are not bound by political borders," Delawie said. "Infectious diseases can and will find ways to challenge current measures of prevention, detection and containment of disease outbreaks. That is why we invited diplomatic, health and security communities from around the world to this conference. We all need to cooperate to minimize the risk of disease being used as a weapon."