ABU DHABI, Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, presided over the first meeting of the National Biosecurity Committee for 2020. The event was part of the Committee's series of meetings to ensure the highest levels of public security and health, in line with the National Biosecurity Strategy adopted by the UAE Cabinet in 2013, under the theme "Integrated Biosecurity".

The strategy provides a foundation for enhancing the country's biosecurity through issuing and updating relevant legislation and building capabilities in biological hazard detection and the mitigation of biological threats.

At the meeting, the Committee members discussed the Biosecurity Manual for Ports and the key takeaways from the Meeting of State Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, held in December 2019 in Switzerland.

They also evaluated the progress of the National Mosquito Control programme launched by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MOCCAE, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Prevention in December 2019. The programme continues across the UAE until March 2020, to coincide with the insect breeding season.

Moreover, the Committee reviewed the status of the deliverables and recommendations of its second meeting of 2019, including the proposal to incorporate educational material on biosecurity into the curricula of universities and other higher education institutions. Also on the list of topics tabled at the last meeting were the online Early Biosecurity Notification System, the Law on the biosafety of genetically modified organisms and their by-products, and the Laboratory Biosecurity Manual.

The members also received a briefing on the outcomes and recommendations of the UAE Fourth Biosecurity Conference, organized by MOCCAE in October 2019. These included the importance of national and international cooperation, data sharing, benchmarking, the inclusion of the private sector and academia in the decision-making process, and leveraging new technologies at ports to ensure the efficiency of biosecurity measures while maintaining a smooth flow of people and goods across borders. In addition, the conference explored the use of Artificial Intelligence as a tool for boosting biosecurity through monitoring biological agents, epidemic threats, and foodborne diseases at the national level.

As a highlight of the meeting, Dr. Al Zeyoudi handed out awards to the scientific team of the UAE Fourth Biosecurity Conference.

Source: Emirates News Agency