About the Author: Rebecca Daley serves as Policy Advisor in the Office of International Health and Biodefense in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES).
On December 15-17, 2010, the U.S. government hosted the second bilateral meeting with Pakistan on U.S.-Pakistan bioengagement activities. I attended, along with a consortium of U.S. government and Pakistani participants, to discuss challenges, concerns, and commonalities between projects, as well as to clarify next steps, milestones, timelines, and funding mechanisms of these biorisk management projects. The projects, proposed by national stakeholders, were divided into categories that included biorisk management in health, livestock/ agriculture, management, education, and science and technology.
I was a part of the working group that looked at the project put forward by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) which looked to expand capacity of Pakistan through the Pakistan Council for Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) to detect and assess microbial and viral waterborne pathogens as part of its national water quality monitoring program. As we discussed in our working group, this project is important because a reliable laboratory is a prerequisite for a strong public health response to emerging waterborne diseases. The hope is that expanding the capacity of the PCRWR we will improve identification of vulnerable water supplies, as well as improve capacity to manage biological risks associated with drinking water supplies in Pakistan.
Our group, along with the other breakout sessions, will continue to work on a matrix which reflects the progress made since our December meeting -- many participants have talked about how this example of U.S.-Pakistan bioengagement was a model for other bioengagement worldwide. I encourage anyone interested in the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) or other biological engagement programs to go to our website.