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DTRA News

News | April 25, 2024

Strengthening Biosecurity in Southeast Asia

By Story by Andrea Chaney Defense Threat Reduction Agency

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA) Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) recently attended the Southeast Asia Strategic Biosecurity Dialogue facilitated by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Hosted in Singapore, DTRA met with current and former government officials, along with academia, from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States to discuss current and emerging biosecurity issues facing Southeast Asia and the international community. Since 2014, DTRA has worked with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and Singapore to arrange this “Track 1.5” dialogue—a mix of government and non-government officials and experts who gather in an unofficial capacity and engage in candid, non-committal discussions on a range of topics. Recognizing the interconnectedness of biosecurity in the region, the dialogue has since expanded, adding Malaysia and Indonesia in 2015 and the Philippines and Thailand in 2017.

In the context of Southeast Asia’s increasingly complex biosecurity landscape, dialogue participants engaged in several roundtable discussions covering a range of biosafety and biosecurity topics. Participants brought a broad scope of expertise, including health, defense and law enforcement, biology and biotechnology, international relations, and non-proliferation. The discussions encompassed Southeast Asia’s regional biosecurity priorities; building resilience to future threats; laboratory biosecurity and biosafety; the convergence of biology and emerging technologies; medical countermeasures development, production, and stockpiling strategies; and the role of the military in biosecurity.

Other highlights from the biosecurity dialogue include a guest presentation from the World Health Organization on an update to its laboratory biosafety and biosecurity guidance; briefings on the establishment of Singapore’s Communicable Disease Agency; site visits to Singapore’s National Centre for Infectious Diseases; and a launch event for the new Asia Centre for Health Security.

The goal of the biosecurity dialogue is to strengthen cross-border cooperation and communication among senior officials to establish and maintain regional resilience to biosecurity threats facing Southeast Asia. The dialogue also serves as a critical forum for experts to identify and debate important issues that merit official policy engagement between and among governments.

For more information on the Southeast Asia Strategic Biosecurity Dialogue and other DTRA programs, visit www.dtra.mil.
 

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