By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
Lagos State government said it has begun to implement its policy on bio-security and bio-banking as a strategy and preparedness against emerging infectious diseases.
The State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, stated this over the weekend while inaugurating a 12-member governing council on bio-banking and bio-security.
Abayomi disclosed that the State’s Ministries of Health and Justice are also working very hard to review relevant state laws in preparation for the development of a bio-security and bio-technology law based on the bio-banking and biosecurity policies along the THEMES agenda of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s administration.
He said that the governing council which is comprises experts and specialists from a variety of disciplines, including bio-banking, biosecurity, molecular biology, public health, ethics, security, law, anthropology, environment, agriculture and representatives of the civil society will provide governance and a regulatory frameworks that will ensure a biosecure environment in the State.
He related that the governing Council will also ensure that biological samples and data emanating from Lagos State are collected, stored and accessed in ways beneficial to the State.
The commissioner explained that the council shall determine the process by which requests for samples or data for research and commercial purposes are managed whilst ensuring strict compliance to policies and laws on bio-security, bio-safety, bio-containment and bio-banking in the State.
He added that the council will ensure that knowledge gained from the samples and data accessed are shared to increase Lagos State’s medical biological knowledge economy and improve emergency preparedness.
“The council shall pay attention and exercise oversight function on issues of international treaties that protect society from biological threats and the subject matter of changing ethical paradigms as they relate to access, benefit sharing and compliance of biological samples, associated data and generated digital sequence information between local and international collaborating research centres”
“Members of the council shall meet at least quarterly on annual basis to adjudicate over important issues that will be presented to them by the biobanking and biosecurity management teams and the disease surveillance, biosecurity and global health unit of the department of Disease Control in the State Ministry of Health”, Abayomi said.
He emphasized that Lagos State government has instituted the one health paradigm and advancing ability to be part of the national and global health security network and global knowledge economy, stressing that the advent of Ebola opened a new chapter which revolves around bio-economy and preparedness for emergencies.
“Lagos State is a rapidly expanding mega city that is experiencing multiple biosecurity threats which require proactive strategic mitigation counter measures and this is why we are developing a much needed bio-banking capacity and bio-security framework along the lines of the One Health paradigm, the national and global health security agenda which includes human, plant and animal health, environment integrity, security and the law”, the commissioner narrated.
Abayomi described bio-security as a wide concept that involves the protection of biological sovereign space and the knowledge therein derivable.
He averred that bi-osecurity is protecting the sovereignty of a community’s biological space to ensure that it is healthy, whilst also ensuring that knowledge that is derivable from it are sovereign and protected.
“And this is why the governing council is established because it going to be looking at a spectrum of activities from our vulnerability to our institutions, resilience, our capacity to respond, our samples and data and our ability to derive knowledge from our indigenous environment including indigenous knowledge systems”
“The mandate on this council is huge and our role is to find out what the trending philosophies are across Africa and in the globe. We must therefore bring ourselves up speed with evolving trends around bio-economy as we are driving the Lagos State medical knowledge bio-economy”, Abayomi stated.
He said members of the council will go through an intense modular training and orientation phase for one year to prepare them adequately for the task ahead.
Members of the Lagos State Governing Council on Bio-banking and Bio-security include Prof. Akin Abayomi, the Commissioner for Health; Dr. Titilayo Goncalves, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health; Prof. Akin Osibogun, consultant community engagement and environmental impact assessor; Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, Consultant clinical microbiologist; and Prof Adebayo Onajole, a data consultant.
Others are Dr. Ololade Wright, a community health specialist; Dr. Babajide Martins, representative of the Ministry of Justice; Lagos State Commissioner for Police; Dr Yetunde Kuyinu; Dr. Rotimi Agbolagorite; Dr. Ismail Abdul Salam and a Technical Adviser on Biobanking and Bio-security project.