Lab Matters Spring 2023 | Page 27


Liberia Accredits Four Biosafety Cabinet Certifiers

By Palmira Mangae , MPH , senior specialist , Global Health
In 2019 , APHL and the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention ’ s ( CDC ’ s ) National Public Health Institute Program ( NPHI ) focused efforts on establishing a national biosafety cabinet ( BSC ) certification program for the National Public Health Institute of Liberia ( NPHIL ). This program was conducted in partnership with Eagleson Institute to provide necessary training and mentorship with the aim of accrediting the participants as BSC Certifiers through the NSF International BSC Field Certifier Basic Accreditation Program .
Four iomedical engineers were selected based on their aptitude for math and mechanical skills . The students participated in formal training courses and mentoring sessions , along with a significant amount of time practicing their newly acquired skills between classes . These courses were a mixture of extensive didactic and practical training between 2019 and 2022 and included :
• Phase I : introduction to BSC certification and correct use of BSCs with a focus on Class II A1 cabinets .
From l to r : Alieu Barry , Amos Tellewoyen , Jame Kollie and Comfort Zowulu work to illustrate understanding on BSC decontamination , repair and troubleshooting
• Phase II : BSC decontamination , repair and troubleshooting .
• Phase III : Phase II Refresher training and validation of the testing equipment .
• Phase IV : Refresher of the entire BSC training phase and accreditation examination preparation .
As part of the training program , APHL purchased testing equipment for the engineers as well as necessary supplies for cabinet testing , repair and decontamination at various stages of the training .
There is a great need for indigenous , accredited BSC certifiers in Sub-Saharan Africa to handle the growing need for safe operation of BSCs within the continent . According to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ’ s Biosafety & Biosecurity Initiative 2021- 2-25 Strategic Plan , certification of BSCs are a major priority area and the training and certification of biosafety and biosecurity experts is a medium-term goal for the African Union states .
As a result of this initiative undertaken by CDC and APHL , in September 2022 , all four biomedical engineers took the NSF Basic Accreditation Examination and passed to become fully accredited by NSF to certify BSCs . For Liberia , this is an amazing accomplishment and puts them ahead of the curve with respect to the Africa CDC ’ s strategic plan to address biosafety and biosecurity needs on the continent . Consequently , the accreditation of these engineers can provide Liberia with the needed capacity to test , repair and certify BSCs which can improve safety and operations in their laboratories nationally .
Over the course of the program implementation , there were various logistical and administrative challenges including navigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the engineer ’ s ability to practice and retain the knowledge and skills they had learned during the phases . These challenges caused the program to run for a much longer period and necessitated the need to repeat multiple course concepts to ensure continuity and retention for the trainees . g
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