INTERPOL hosts workshop to boost biological threat resilience

Law enforcement, public health officials and scientists across Africa recently participated in a national and regional biological threat resilience workshop in Ethiopia.

The week-long workshop, organized by INTERPOL's CBRNE unit, studied microorganisms and emerging technologies under Operation S'OMMET. The workshop included representatives from Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

To help counter the Ebola outbreak plaguing western Africa, the workshop trained those who would fight future outbreaks of the disease in a three-day exercise.

“It is essential for law enforcement, public health and academia to work together to ensure they are fully prepared for any future health crisis,” Guy Collyer, the head of INTERPOL’s bioterrorism prevention unit, said.

INTERPOL will host future workshops globally over the next two years with the help of American and Canadian funding. The workshops will help member countries identify and dress biological threats, including quarantine procedures and restrictions on potentially infected animals and humans moving across boundaries.

“Disease outbreaks, whether caused accidentally, deliberately or by nature, require the same response and have the potential to cause a severe impact if the response is slow or not fully coordinated,” Collyer said.