Request for proposals: Training course on establishment of a national biosecurity system

WHO/Europe is seeking short-term (5 months) support to assist in development and delivery of the first course on establishment of a national biosecurity system. (See a glossary of terms below.)

The selected contractor will collaborate with WHO/Europe to develop and deliver a programme of the first inter-country course on establishment and improvement of a national biosecurity system, which would include a biosecurity-themed tabletop exercise.

The project is to assist Member States to review, update or initiate if absent their national biosecurity policy, legislation, preparedness and response plans with a goal to improve the quality of communication between relevant sectors of government and interagency communication and to combine existing biosecurity and biosafety components into a comprehensive biorisk management system. While the proposed course may benefit general biosecurity practices in the country, it may be particularly beneficial to the ongoing poliovirus containment initiative.

To apply, please send a project proposal to Dr Eugene Gavrilin (gavriline@who.int) by 15 June 2016. 

Background

The 2015 World Health Assembly resolution WHA68.3 urged accelerated implementation of the WHO Global Action Plan to minimize poliovirus facility-associated risk after type-specific eradication of wild polioviruses and sequential cessation of oral polio vaccine use (GAP III). All Member States should complete Phase I (Preparation for containment of poliovirus type 2), which includes establishing an inventory of facilities holding polioviruses, destroying all wild poliovirus materials by the end of 2015 and destroying all Sabin (vaccine) type 2 poliovirus materials by July 2016. Any type 2 poliovirus materials not destroyed should be securely contained in designated "poliovirus essential" facilities. For implementation of Phase II (Poliovirus type 2 containment period) Member States hosting essential poliovirus facilities (vaccine production, research and repositories) should designate a national containment authority, establish biorisk management regulations aligned with GAP III, and certify secure containment of poliovirus materials.

The interim containment progress reports from the countries confirmed that while the general biosafety component of biorisk management is fairly well developed, several countries are lacking relevant information or detail of the biosecurity provisions. Since elements of a biosecurity system may be located in various governmental sectors (public health, law enforcement, etc.), countries often struggle to establish an inter-sectoral collaboration between national agencies that would apply standardized threat assessment and uniformly cover critical infrastructure irrespective of its affiliation (health, education, military, private, etc.).

This project will contribute to the effort to consolidate the best practices and countries' experience in the field of establishing national biosecurity systems and make the state-of-the-art tools available to those who would like to review their current systems or perhaps are only in the initial stages of establishing one.

Project description

To develop and deliver a programme of an inter-country training course that will assist priority Member States to establish, review and improve their national biosecurity systems. The programme should be developed and delivered as a joint collaboration between WHO/Europe and the selected contractor.

The programme should be 1 week in duration (5 working days) and expandable to include additional regions and Member States should similar courses be conducted in the future. The participation in the training course of relevant professionals from the sectors of public health, law enforcement and security will be encouraged. There will be no exchange of sensitive or classified information between the participants. The scenarios during the tabletop exercise would be realistic in nature and include poliovirus (PV) as a model but will be devoid of any references to real events, locations and persons.

The aim of the training course will be to critically establish, review and update, if necessary, the national biosecurity systems in national, regional and inter-regional contexts.

The course's programme will have the following four strategic, over-arching objectives, however specific objectives can be developed for the facilitated workshop events and countries will be encouraged to consider specific national objectives.

  • Improve capacity to self-assess the existing biosecurity system in the country and to identify current gaps and key steps necessary to develop it further.
  • Increase level of preparedness to develop both legislative and financing aspects of biosecurity system and identify ways to dovetail biosecurity with biosafety into comprehensive biorisk management. 
  • Improve country biopreparedness and response for accidental or intentional release of biological agents.
  • Explore ways to integrate a responsible life science approach and bioethics campaigns as tools to maintain awareness and vigilance in the area of biosecurity.

Project outline

  • 4 to 5 WHO/Europe Member States are possible candidates to participate in the facilitated 5-day training course delivered within one of the possible candidate countries.
  • Course would be programmed for September/ October 2016.

Course planning and development 

  • Scope the exercise. To include agreeing any specific objectives, scenario outline including parameters, participating countries and course schedule.
  • Develop a scenario. Develop a bespoke scenario(s) and revise as necessary following discussions with the stakeholders.
  • Produce final scenario.
  • Revise the exercise and course documentation including master events list, injects and questions, participant handbook, participant evaluation forms.
  • Participate in planning audio conferences and/or meetings as necessary.

Exercise delivery

  • Brief and prepare course facilitators.
  • Deliver the exercise during September/ October 2016 for 45 to 50 regional participants.
  • Facilitate a debrief with planners and stakeholders.

Exercise evaluation

  • Produce a draft final report within 20 working days of the workshop. Report format to be agreed with WHO/Europe.
  • Review and revise the draft final report.
  • Submit the final report to WHO/Europe within agreed timeframe.

Definition of course outputs

  • A multi-country scenario for use within a country or at the regional level for 3 to 5 countries.
  • A set of injects that will allow the exercise participants to address key elements of the standard country-level response plan, including: identifying appropriate incident reporting mechanisms and key players in the investigation; conducting an initial investigation, activating local responses and implementing risk-assessment in order to establish an emergency plan of actions; implementing comprehensive communication activities for the public, health professionals and international partners, based on the International Health Regulations (IHR), and inter-country communication. 
  • A final exercise master document set in English; one paper copy and one electronic copy. The document set is to include a master exercise handbook containing the programme, injects, question sheets, evaluation timetable and other working documents for the simulation exercise written in English. The document set is to be delivered to WHO/Europe for potential translation into relevant language(s) three weeks prior to the exercise.
  • The preparation of facilitators immediately prior to (the day before) the exercise at the selected exercise venue.
  • The final exercise report in English to cover a review of activities undertaken, major results obtained and problems encountered during the exercise. A section on recommendations and lessons learnt is to be included.

Glossary of terms

  • Biosecurity system – a legislative framework for the protection, control and accountability for biological agents and toxins within biological facilities to prevent their unauthorized access, loss, theft, misuse and diversion, or their intentional unauthorized release.
  • Biosafety - the containment principles, technologies and practices that are implemented to prevent unintentional exposure to pathogens and toxins, or their accidental release.
  • Biorisk – a risk relating to biosafety and biosecurity where the principal hazard is a biological agent.
  • Biorisk management system - an organizational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources for developing, implementing, achieving, reviewing and maintaining an organization's biorisk policy.