Enhancing Biosafety Standards in Singapore and Abroad

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Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Ministries of Health and Manpower, at TLL during the launch of the Biosafety Passport and Biosafety Training Structure

Recent outbreaks of infectious diseases such as H5N1 and Ebola have prompted the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory (TLL) and other regulatory agencies and ministries to jointly launch the Biosafety Passport and Biosafety Training Structure on 5th February 2015.

This programme aims to provide a benchmark for industry best practices so as to ensure that personnel at research institutes, hospitals and companies are better equipped with the necessary competencies when working with dangerous biological agents and materials. This initiative will benefit about 9,000 personnel from more than 50 companies, local universities and 30 public-sector institutions in Singapore.

TLL currently shares knowledge of biorisk management and emerging infectious diseases with professionals in five ASEAN countries (Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam). The programme’s objective is to strengthen each country’s national health development resources in terms of capacity building, surveillance, information sharing, research and training for laboratory biosafety and biosecurity, in order to prevent potential cross border outbreaks.

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About the Biosafety Training Structure

The training structure comprises three levels:

• Biosafety Induction Programme – basic course for laboratory users who come into contact with biological agents
• Biosafety Professional Programme – specialist diploma level for biosafety coordinators
• Professional Certification for Continued Education – professional workshops and classes targeted at experienced employees in operation and management levels

Those who complete the core module of the programme (i.e. Biosafety Induction Programme) will receive the Biosafety Passport certification.

Why focus on Biosafety?

“The increasingly high traffic across borders and high density populations has made it more challenging to deal with these threats. While Singapore has thus far been spared, we must not take this for granted. We must remain vigilant.” – Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Ministries of Health and Manpower

Did you know…

The first reported case in the Ebola outbreak ravaging west Africa dates back to December 2013, in Guéckédou, a forested area of Guinea near the border with Liberia and Sierra Leone. Travellers took it across the border: by late March, Liberia had reported eight suspected cases and Sierra Leone six. By the end of June, 759 people had been infected and 467 people had died from the disease, making this the worst ever Ebola outbreak. As of May 3rd 2015, 26,628 cases and 11,020 deaths had been reported worldwide, the vast majority of them in these same three countries.
(Source: The Economist – May 10, 2015)