Canada hands over BSL-3 facility to CARPHA

The government of Canada officially handed over a biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) biological containment laboratory last week to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

Canada provided the facility, which was manufactured by Florida-based biocontainment company Germfree, to CARPHA in cooperation with the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization. The facility is the first of its kind for the Caribbean region.

The laboratory will improve the region's capacity for fast detection, diagnosis and response to disease outbreaks, whether deliberately caused or naturally occurring.

"This first class lab will enable us to be even better prepared for any emergencies that can be caused by pathogenic agents through early detection and enhanced response capabilities," Fuad Khan, the minister of health of Trinidad and Tobago, said.

Gerard Latulippe, the high commissioner for Canada to Trinidad and Tobago, said that a safe and secure biological laboratory is an essential tool in the battle against infectious disease.

"(The lab) is set up to process and rapidly identify, in a safe and secure environment, samples suspected for a diverse range of diseases - including Yellow fever, West Nile virus, rabies, Hantavirus, anthrax, drug resistant (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) and emerging infectious diseases with epidemic potential," Latulippe said.

Germfree said the new facility will serve as a critical global public health asset by providing advanced disease surveillance.