India hosts biosecurity summit

Experts from Asia and Pacific countries recently met at a three day conference in New Delhi to discuss how to develop adequate biosecurity arrangements to protect against the spread of highly pathogenic diseases.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research and the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutes hope to identify gaps in preparedness and to remedy them with a strategy that includes measures to alert, detect and control destructive viruses, according to

Regional experts warn that policy vacuums are as much to blame as technical inadequacies for the continued threat of trans-boundary diseases. Public policies in most countries gravitate towards managing domestic outbreaks of rather than international and regional cooperation. As a result, there is an increasing fear that unscrupulous organizations could gain access to the pathogens and use them as weapons of bioterrorism.

India said that it has acquired a sufficient indigenous capacity to detect infectious disease outbreaks and develop a coordinated domestic response, but fears that its neighbors have fallen behind. In 1998, Indian health authorities founded a high-security animal disease laboratory and several diagnostic centers.

Experts note, however, that India still relies on the mass slaughter of animals suspected to be infected with serious illnesses. More effective barriers at borders, constant surveillance and investment in more facilities for quick diagnoses are still needed to implement an effective biosecurity policy, domestically and regionally, Business-Standard reports.