Biosecurity and Biosafety Training Workshops Boost Laboratory Safety Practices across Morocco

With support from TEPHINET and the US Department of State’s Biosecurity Engagement Program (BEP), the National School of Public Health (L’École Nationale de Santé Publique, or ENSP) of Morocco, host organization of the Morocco Field Epidemiology Training Program, organized a training workshop on biosecurity and biosafety in Rabat from December 10 to 13, 2018.

According to Dr. Biagio Pedalino, TEPHINET’s technical consultant who was present at the workshop, “This training was a fantastic opportunity to widen the network of experts in Morocco by adding the biosafety and biosecurity component to their portfolio of competencies.”

Participating in the December workshop were 31 laboratory personnel and other public health actors from across Morocco, including representatives from regional laboratories, the National Institute of Hygiene, the Royal Military Forces, the Pasteur Institute of Morocco, the National Office of Food Security, ENSP personnel, and several other organizations.

Through a mix of presentations and practical sessions, workshop facilitators focused on increasing participants’ skills and abilities in avoiding risks, hazards and lab incidents and on improving their experiences in biosafety and biosecurity during laboratory work. Participants also practiced using personal protective equipment (PPE) and went on a field site visit to the National Institute of Hygiene.

“Participants could challenge themselves by experiencing how simple it could be to expose themselves to a threat if not well-protected,” says Pedalino, “And to see how easy it could be to make a simple mistake that may cost a human life.”

The workshop was designed for participants to:

  • understand general principles of biosafety and biosecurity;
  • know the principles of biological risk assessment and management;
  • correctly carry out packaging and labeling for the transport of infectious substances according to the regulations in place;
  • know good practices for decontamination, disinfection and waste management;
  • know how to properly use PPE;
  • know the legal texts and guides related to biosafety;
  • know the requirements of implementing a risk management program;
  • be aware of issues of ethics, the dual use of organic products.

Facilitators provided participants with knowledge to implement the following during their daily work:

  • Biorisk management
  • Risk assessment
  • Biosafety and biosecurity
  • Risk, hazards, and threats
  • Laboratory safety incidents
  • Specimen management, labeling and packaging management
  • Medical waste
  • Transportation of infectious substances
  • Bioethics and double use of research
  • Risk communication
  • Presentation and use of PPE

“Overall, given the workshop’s success and the continuous requests that ENSP receives from the Ministry of Health and other Ministries in the country,” says Pedalino, “This is a possible starting point for a much wider sharing of knowledge among the country's public health professionals, as the training material will become available for an e-learning platform.”

This workshop was the fourth in a series of biosecurity and biosafety workshops organized by ENSP with support from TEPHINET and BEP, with previous sessions occurring in March 2017, October 2017 and July 2018.