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14 October 2011

Boosting bioterrorism prevention capability focus of INTERPOL training

ALMATY, Kazakhstan – Enhancing the bioterrorism prevention and response capabilities in the Central Asia and Caucasus region was the focus of INTERPOL’s Regional Biosecurity Course.

Nearly 40 law enforcement, customs, public health and laboratory officials from nine countries took part in the five day (10 – 14 October) course hosted by Kazakhstan, the latest in a series organized by the INTERPOL Bioterrorism Prevention Programme’s network of experts, with contributions from various agencies around the world including law enforcement, policy makers, academics, health-protection agencies and the WHO.

A key aspect of the training was a series of practical exercises enabling participants to immediately apply the theory of difficult scientific and strategic concepts learned during the course: specific aspects of biological agents, detection and most importantly how to prevent and to respond to a biological attack or incident from a joint law enforcement and public health perspective.

INTERPOL’s Regional Biosecurity Course, supported by Canada and the International Science and Technology Center, builds on the success of the initial Train-the-Trainer model, but with more attention drawn to the concepts of biosecurity and biosafety: reducing exposure to potentially hazardous biologically agents, as well as protecting legitimate research facilities against the theft of microbial agents, which could potentially be turned into biological weapons.

During the opening ceremony, the United States Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, Andy Weber, spoke about the importance of building ‘ongoing global partnerships to elevate the priority of biological threat prevention within the international community’ and underlined the special role that INTERPOL can fulfill in this area.