In April 2019, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) launched the Biosafety and Biosecurity Initiative, a progressive effort aimed at strengthening biosafety and biosecurity systems in African Union (AU) Member States. The primary objective was to ensure compliance with national and international standards, including the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005), the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540, and the multi-country Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA).
Assessments such as the World Health Organization (WHO) Joint External Evaluation (JEE) and the Global Health Security Index report have consistently highlighted significant capacity gaps in biosafety and biosecurity across AU Member States. These gaps serve as a clear indication of the need for comprehensive and targeted interventions.
To address these challenges, Africa CDC conducted regional consultations between 2019 and 2021. These consultations revealed a persistent deficiency: the limited availability of standardized and regionally recognized training programs in biosafety and biosecurity. This shortage hindered the region’s capacity-building efforts, further emphasizing the need for immediate action.
Responding to this critical gap, Africa CDC collaborated closely with AU Member States to develop a practical and accessible solution. The result is the Regional Training and Certification Program for Biosafety and Biosecurity Professionals (RTCP-BBP), a locally tailored initiative designed to empower individuals in the field and provide them with recognized certification.
The RTCP-BBP focuses on four essential areas of specialization:
- Selection, Installation, Maintenance, and Certification of Biological Safety Cabinets
- Biorisk Management
- Design and Maintenance of Facilities Handling High-Risk Pathogens (Biocontainment Engineering)
- Biological Waste Management
Utilizing a proficiency matrix, the program assesses individuals’ competencies in these key areas. Certification is divided into three levels: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3, as outlined in the Regional Training and Certification Program for Biosafety and Biosecurity Program.
Africa Region Subject Matter Experts (Af-RSME)
To advance from Level 1 to Level 2 certification, candidates must undertake practical improvement projects and undergo competency assessments in their respective countries. Africa Region Subject Matter Experts (Af-RSMEs) play a pivotal role in guiding and supervising candidates throughout these activities. Candidates compile portfolios containing improvement project reports, practical assessments, and competency evaluations, which are subsequently reviewed by the Examination and Certification Committee for the award of Level 2 Af-BBP certification.
Af-RSMEs are recognized authorities in their fields, having demonstrated extensive knowledge and expertise in the specialization areas. Their competence is acknowledged both regionally and internationally, with their peers attesting to their remarkable contributions.
The Af-RSMEs are responsible for the following key roles:
- Assisting Level 1 certified candidates in developing and finalizing improvement project proposals for approval by the ECC.
- Overseeing the implementation of approved improvement projects, ensuring adherence to agreed timeframes.
- Collaborating with candidates to produce comprehensive improvement project reports.
- Supervising in-country hands-on practicals aligned with the specialization areas outlined in the RTCP-BBP.
- Conducting in-country competency evaluations as prescribed in the program.
The launch of the RTCP-BBP demonstrates Africa CDC’s unwavering commitment to enhancing biosafety and biosecurity systems on the continent. By providing standardized training and certification, the program aims to bridge the capacity gaps, strengthen preparedness and response capabilities, and foster a safer and more secure future for Africa.
- List of Africa Regional Subject Matter Experts (Af-RMSE) in Biological Waste Management
- List of Africa Regional Subject Matter Experts (Af-RMSE) in Biorisk Management
- List of Africa Regional Subject Matter Experts (Af-RMSE)in Biological Safety Cabinet Installation, Maintenance and Certification
Dorothy Wambeti Njagi, Senior Communication Officer – Policy, Health Diplomacy & Communication: Africa CDC | Tel: +251 940 559 950 | Email: email@example.com