BMAK (Feature article from IFBA)| Published: 20/03/2019 214
The Biorisk Management Association of Kenya (BMAK) is a non- governmental organization for professionals in life sciences. It was registered in 2011 with an aim of promoting knowledge and understanding of biosafety and biosecurity issues in Kenya and to support the implementation of biorisk management practices. BMAK’s management structure is made of a seven member team currently headed by Professor Ciira Kiiyukia as the Chairman. Its membership is drawn from multi-sectoral/institutions with a vast majority drawn from the Ministry of Health, the Kenya Medical Research Institute and the academia. In cognizant of the global health security agenda for “one health” BMAK has in the recent past expanded its membership to professionals in the animal and plant sectors. Over the years BMAK and its members have held a number of training workshops on biosafety and biosecurity targeting laboratory workers. In collaboration with the ministry of Health, more than 3000 health care workers in Kenya have been trained in laboratory biosafety and biosecurity. BMAK has also actively participated in championing biosafety and biosecurity in the East African region. In 2016, BMAK conducted a regional workshop and IFBA professional examination certification in Biorisk Management was administered to 31 candidates drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Burundi.
The first regional biosafety and biosecurity conference was held in Kampala, Uganda in 2016. Dr. Patrick Okanya, the Secretary General for BMAK was a representative delegate in this conference whose goal was to examine and discuss strategies for regional biosafety and biosecurity preparedness. It was also during this event that the Biosafety and Biosecurity Association of Uganda (BBAU) was unveiled officially as a member state of IFBA following the footsteps of BMAK. In September of 2016, BMAK was represented by its Vice Chairman, Dr. Austin Aluoch in a Regional Workshop for Africa to prepare for the Eighth Review of the Biological Weapons Conference. He gave a talk on Strengthening National Implementation of policies in regard to biosafety and biosecurity (https://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B8954/(httpAssets)/70101EF260D93EE8C12580360038CBCF/$file/Addis+presentation+20160913+Aluoch.pdf).
BMAK is also proud to have produced two IFBA heroes in the Biorisk Management competency exam in two consecutive year’s i.e. Mr. Albert Bunyasi in 2015 and Ms. Doris Bota in 2016. In addition to many of its activities, members of the association are currently participating as stakeholders in the development of a harmonized Kenya National Biosafety and Biosecurity curriculum that is in-cooperating human, animal and plant health security aspects as recommended by the joint external evaluation for biosafety and biosecurity captured under action package three of the Global Health Security Agenda.
In recognition of its activities in the region, BMAK was a recipient of the 2017 funding from the Global Affairs Canada (GAC) through IFBA for a project to strengthen and sustain biosafety and biosecurity in the East African region. In this project, BMAK and BBAU were trained early this year by PEN Management & Development Consultants (PMDC) on international best practices of NGO management and development of strategic plans. The meeting was officially opened by the Director of medical services, ministry of Health Kenya and the strategic goals and activities were developed in careful coordination with existing initiatives such as the Global Health Security Agenda, International Health Regulation and Biological Weapons Convention. Key stakeholders in participation were drawn from Ministry of Health, Centre for Disease control, African Society for Laboratory Medicine, African Union, National Biosafety Authority, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, US Cooperative Biological Engagement Program, University Professors and other partners with expertise in biosafety and biosecurity. The strategic plans for the two associations are in the final stages of editing and will officially be launched before the end of 2018.
To complement and sustain activities of the strategic plans a pool of certified professionals in Biorisk Management is required. In task two of the GAC funded project, BMAK and BBAU facilitated trainings in biosafety and biosecurity of 51 participants selected from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi who eventually sat for the IFBA professional examination certifications in either Biorisk Management or Biosecurity. The names of successful candidates have since been published on the IFBA website (http://www.internationalbiosafety.org/index.php/professional-certification/ifba-professional-certifications/directory-of-certified-individuals).