Topical issues of ensuring biological safety in the Kyrgyz Republic
Participants of the video conference:
Damira Omurzakovna Ashuralieva – Head of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetic and Diagnostic Studies of the Department of Disease Prevention and State Sanitary and Epidemiological Surveillance of the Ministry of Health of the Kyrgyz Republic (member of the consultative and expert group of the operational headquarters of the Ministry of Health to monitor the epidemiological situation on coronavirus infection);
Bektashev Taalaibek Dzhumaevich – presenter of the videoconference, Executive Director of the Center for Non-Proliferation and Export Control.
Below are the main excerpts from the videoconference.
Taalaibek Bektashev: Greetings to all participants! I would like to remind you today of the representative of the Ministry of Health of the Kyrgyz Republic, Damira Omurzakovna Ashuralieva, and Marat Akunovich Sadykov, an expert in the field of radiation, chemical and biological (bacteriological) protection of the Center for Non-Proliferation and Export Control.
– Damira Omurzakovna, first of all, thank you very much for taking the time to talk during such a difficult period for all of us, we all understand that you and your colleagues are now under a huge burden related to the tasks of minimizing the spread of pandemic diseases, coronavirus outbreak. Today we would like to talk and get some information on this topic.
– Damira Omurzakovna, at the end of last June, we together, among others, participated in a regional seminar on strengthening the capacity to prepare and respond to the deliberate use of biological weapons.
As you will recall, the seminar was accompanied by team exercises and other practical activities with simulated situations of proliferation of various biological threats in conditional countries https://exportcontrol.kg/novosti/nasha-deyatelnost/26-27-iyunya-na-issyk-kule-czentr-otdyha-raduga-s-sary-oj-prohodil-regionalnyj-seminar-po-ispolneniyu-kbto/
We could not have imagined at that time that some of the activities from the command and staff exercises could go into reality, in literally less than a year’s time under the current conditions of COVID-19 virus spread around the world.
Damira Ashiralieva: I remember very well that this seminar on the implementation of some articles of the Biological Weapons Convention was very useful, and now everyone understands that it was held in time. We had an opportunity with colleagues from other countries to exchange information, national practices on planning measures for biological threats, including the development of relevant action plans at the national and regional levels, to obtain information and materials for updating their national action plans.
At the same time, I would like to note that we are talking about biological threats in general, which may include inadvertent/intentional/natural spread of epidemics, infections, etc.
Taalaibek Bektashev: Of course, we will not try to find out if COVID-19 is a biological weapon, or rather its origin.
In this case, we understand that the risks of biological threats become more urgent in any case of its manifestation.
– Damira Omurzakovna, you are a member of the advisory and expert group of the operational headquarters of the Ministry of Health to monitor the epidemiological situation on coronavirus infection and take preventive measures to prevent importation into the country. What are your tasks and what difficulties do you see or may be in the performance of these tasks?
Damira Ashiralieva: The main tasks of our Advisory and Expert Group include:
– rendering consulting assistance in organization of prophylactic and anti-epidemic measures;
– Conducting the Doctors’ Consultation on diagnostics, hospitalization and treatment;
– advisory support for isolation and restriction measures.
At the same time, in the performance of the above tasks on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of coronavirus infection, health care specialists sometimes face the problem of lack of personal protective equipment. But the work in this direction is going on, now the situation looks better than at the very beginning of the epidrocess.
We also have to often advise staff on the proper use and disposal of personal protective equipment.
Questions about the safe and proper selection, storage and transport of clinical samples (pandemic potential) and methods of virus detection are also of current importance.
Taalaibek Bektashev: Marat Akunovich, as an expert in the field of CBRN, can you add anything on personal protective equipment?
Marat Sadykov: The topic of protective equipment is a separate and very extensive area. One can talk about it very much and for a long time. I’m afraid there is not much time for that. In short, all personal protective equipment is necessary to prevent human contact with an unwanted object or environment. They are divided according to their purpose and the tasks ahead, where they will be used. There are many PPE classifications. In the current situation, we need to use filtering respiratory protection equipment. These are basic medical masks and respirators of various types. There are also gas masks, which are also classified as respiratory filters. During Soviet times, the civil defence system stockpiled large amounts of PPE for the population. Unfortunately, most of these products are no longer suitable for use due to ageing materials. After all, there has been no updating or procurement of these items by the state. New PPE on the commercial market uses other materials for manufacturing, other approaches and methods. Consequently, they can be expensive. As always, we do not have the money for this.
Taalaibek Bektashev: Currently, the government is being criticized a lot, but today we would like to talk about how civil society can help the country in fighting this outbreak of coronovis-19.
– Damira Omurzakova, is there anything else you want to add on the issue?
Damira Ashiraliyeva: Yes. I would like to note that in addition to implementing practical measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection, it is important to establish appropriate rules, procedures, control and supervision functions regulated by national legislation in the sphere of ensuring biological safety.
In that vein, last year an interdepartmental working group was established under the Ministry of Health to draft a law on biological security.
Currently, the draft law is at the stage of development, and its relevance in this situation is very high. After all, the main goals of the Law will be to establish the basis for state regulation in the area of biological safety of the country, to consolidate a set of measures aimed at protecting the population and the environment from the impact of dangerous biological factors, to prevent biological threats (dangers), to create and develop a system for monitoring biological risks.
I would like to take this opportunity to ask the Center for Nonproliferation and Export Control to provide expert and advisory assistance in finalizing the draft law, in analyzing the regulatory impact of the Normative Legal Acts projects that are under development, or assistance in finding partners for this project.
Taalaibek Bektashev: I would like to fully agree with you with the statement that development and adoption of the mentioned draft law in the sphere of biological security is a priority and necessary step in the sphere of counteraction of various biological threats. In addition, it will facilitate the implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons, and in general, the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1540.
I would also like to report that many countries are also on this path:
– In the Russian Federation, a similar draft law has been submitted to the State Duma of the Russian Federation, and at present, the draft law is being considered there on a priority basis;
– In Armenia, the adoption of a law on biological security is under consideration;
– China has begun to develop a similar biological security law. At the same time, China believes that it is necessary to include biological safety in the system of state security, including systematic planning of prevention and control of biological safety risks, comprehensive strengthening of the state capacity to manage biological safety.
Taalaibek Bektashev: – Damira Omurzakovna, I see that you need to leave us already.
Thank you once again very much for the opportunity to talk to you. For our part, we will try to provide all possible assistance on biological safety issues. We’ll be in touch!
Damira Ashiralieva: – Goodbye!
Taalaibek Bektashev: Marat Akunovich, how do you think the current outbreak of the new type of virus COVID-19 has affected the work of the entire state system of public health protection?
Marat Sadykov: The new type of Coronavirus-19 disease, as we are already informed, is a type of viral infection. Like all viral infections, it is contagious and transmissible from person to person. In human history, there have been three huge pandemics that have reduced the human population by several dozen times. All of these cases showed that humanity was not prepared for this turn of events. The reasons for the great mortality at that time were people’s failure to observe elementary rules of personal hygiene, unsanitary conditions, lack of effective medicines and measures to counter the spread of infection.
The current situation was declared a pandemic because of the high rate of spread. Despite early information about the disease, we were still not prepared. Above all, we have missed the time for preventive measures. On the whole, the State system for the protection of public health is working badly and badly. In most cases it works very hard only on paper. In practice, we see a lot of problems. Because of underfunding, there is an acute shortage of basic measures.
Personal protective equipment, diagnostic equipment, artificial ventilation of lungs and medicines. This is all we see in the center, on the periphery the situation is even worse. The medical personnel directly working in the acutely ill work for wear and tear. That’s why, day after day, we see an increase in the number of medical staff who are sick. I think that training qualified personnel to effectively counteract this type of disease also suffers. They have to learn a lot on the move. Our leadership will need to learn from the past and review many aspects of the public health system.
At this stage, as Damira Omurzakovna noted, the adoption of a law on biological safety is very urgent. We have a very interesting situation. There are working by-laws in the sphere of biological safety, but there is no law.
Taalaibek Bektashev: Marat Akunovich, thank you for your comments.
We understand the importance and need to adopt the appropriate law on biological safety.
We see the importance of providing instruction, training and courses primarily for medical personnel, given the incidents of coronavirus infection of medical personnel around the world.
Indeed, the public health protection system needs to be improved and we hope that it will be improved, and this should not only require the state, but also call on civil society, various non-governmental organizations, foundations, private entities and the expert community to provide their assistance and assistance.
For our part, we will continue to try to invite various experts to discuss the implementation of biological security, which will allow us to identify existing problem areas and to seek assistance from various international organizations and donors when necessary.
I would like to wish everyone good health, don’t be sore and stay in touch!
*Video conference was carried out with the help of Zoom communication application, transcription was carried out with the help of Speechlogger program.