Featured Article: My Experience with the APBA Conf in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam

This article was submitted by Ms. Karen G. Reyes, a registered medical technologist from St. Luke’s Medical Center, Research and Biotechnology in Quezon City Philippines. She wrote…..

BEP Pre-Conf Workshop

Twenty seven participants coming across the regions of Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines) have attended the BEP-sponsored workshop in partnership with CRDF Global held at Lotte Legend Hotel Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam last August 21, 2017.

The Philippine delegates were representatives from both government and private sectors namely Department of Agriculture Region XII; Research Institute for Tropical Medicine; San Lazaro Hospital-Department of Health; South Cotabato Provincial Hospital; St. Luke’s Medical Center (Infection Control Service Unit, Institute of Pathology, Research and Biotechnology, and Quality and Patient Safety); and University of the Philippines (UP) – Manila (National Institute of Health).

Mr. David W. Ausdemore

Mr. David W. Ausdemore, founder and the President of Health Systems Science LLC, was the keynote speaker of the said workshop (Figure 1). He has 20 years of domestic and international experience working with wide variety of health, safety, and environmental programs that includes community and occupational health risk management, environmental management and remediation, national public health emergency responses, health and laboratory systems strengthening, and quality management systems. Mr. Ausdemore started his presentation with an interactive game so the participants were kept from jittery movements and loosen up.

The workshop was divided into six sessions: (1) Role of the Biosafety Officer/Principles and Programs (2) Biosafety and Biosecurity Accreditation Programs, Policies and Strategies (3) CEN Biorisk Quality Management System (4) Infectious Hazards and

Controls (5) Chemical Safety, Waste Management and Personal Protective Equipment and (6) Laboratory Safety Equipment (Figure 2). Every session, participants were given the chance to share their own experiences based on their field of expertise.

A group exercise was the final part of the workshop where the participants were grouped into six and each country had two teams. They were tasked to develop a proposal for a USD 10,000 grant to develop the laboratory biorisk management programs in their regions and each group had chosen a representative to report on their project. Most of the teams focused on training and education and re-organization of standard operating procedures (SOPs) while one group from the Philippines (St. Luke’s Medical Center) proposed a software tool for their laboratory biorisk management systems (Figure 3A) and another group from Malaysia (University of Malaya) presented an offline Microsoft Powerpoint Module for the training of their staffs and personnel. Mr. Ausdemore commended these two institutions for developing something that is innovative and sustainable.

The program was concluded with the distribution of certificates by Ms. Olga Chernysheva, representative of CRDF Global.

Participants to the BEP sponsored workshop; most center is Ms. Olga Ochernysheva of CRDF Global.

A-PBA Pre-Conference Workshops

The workshops were conducted simultaneously and with the conflict of time, participants could only select one workshop for Day 1, while one or two on Day 2. In addition to that, we were provided with handbook / instructional materials for every workshop. In the interest of my current role in my institution, St. Luke’s Medical Center, I have chosen Workshop 2 for Day 1, and Workshop 4 and 5 for Day 2.

day 1

timthumb-phpIn this workshop, the International Federation of Biosafety Association (IFBA) Professional Certification Modules were introduced and discussed further in details. This certification program aims to provide individuals the confidence and assurance that they are competent and knowledgeable in specific technical disciplines. Currently, 5 disciplines are offered namely: (1) Biorisk Management (2) Biosecurity (3) Biological Waste Management (4) Biocontainment Facility Design, Operations & Maintenance and (5) Biological Safety Cabinet Selection, Installation & Safe Use. The facilitators have a well-defined grasps of the topics that they have given all the necessary information we needed to pass the exam.Participants were pro-active as well, throwing questions and sharing experiences. After the session, we were given a quiz to assess if we clearly understood the topics. The quiz was prepared by IFBA. It was concluded by awarding of certificates to the attendees.

day 2

Speaker Mr. Jim Welch of Elizabeth R Griffin Research Foundation with participants (in blue is BRAP Asst. Treasurer, Mr. Eian Medina of RITM)

The last day of pre-conference workshop series was also loaded of so many things to ponder if you are an advocate of biosafety and biosecurity. The first of the two that I have chosen was workshop 4: Leadership and Empowerment in Biorisk Management, our speaker was Mr. Jim Welch of Elizabeth R Griffin Research Foundation  whose talk emphasized the mindset of empowering leadership.

He was able to define what a good leader is, how they should respond to change and innovation and how to handle the people in their group. And these factors are necessary for the next leaders of biosafety and biosecurity.

The second speaker, is Dr. Julie Fischer from Georgetown University Medical Center, who have made strong points on capacity sustainable capacity building. She was right, after training and workshops like this, it is very critical to determine how the leaders and advocates of biosafety and biosecurity could sustain what they acquired and how to be able to disseminate the information when they come home to their respective countries.

Workshop on “Responding to Biorisk Emergency – Theory and Scenario Table Top Exercise”

In the afternoon session where I attended workshop 5 was indeed timely and an enjoyable one. It was entitled “Responding to Biorisk Emergency – Theory and Scenario Table Top Exercise”. The presentation is very useful and applicable to our workplace.  And it was made enjoyable because it was interactive and we are allowed to participate and share thoughts and the practices that have been established in our own institution. Dr. Lim Yang Mooi facilitated the workshop.

Aside from the completion of the workshop sessions and getting our certificates, we were very much empowered and looking forward to share back home the knowledge, new information and updates we got from a great pool of speakers.

The APBA Conference Proper

Conference Day 1 (August 24, 2017) started early with the registration of participants 8:00 am to 9:00 am. The organizers were generous to provide each participant with a souvenir tote bag, program book saved in a flash drive, city guide booklet and even a memorabilia magnet showcasing Vietnam. A huge number of attendees coming from different countries across Asia-Pacific as well as Africa and the United States were represented. The program started with the welcome and opening remarks from the President of Asia-Pacific Biosafety Association (A-PBA), Dr. Chua Teck-Mean followed by a welcome message from the Director of National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Vietnam, Prof. Dang Duc Anh; then right after, another welcome address was delivered by the representative from the Ministry of Health, Vietnam.

The culture of Vietnam has many similarities with our culture here in the Philippines, the host country welcomed all the guests and participants with a colorful dance presentation. After that lively act, we were gathered in front of the hall for our group photograph.

figure 1

The keynote lecture entitled “INTERPOL’s Bioterrorism Prevents Unit’s Activity to Strengthen Global Biosecurity, was delivered by the Directorate of Counter Terrorism, INTERPOL – Dr. Dinis Adriao. The program was scheduled and organized into seven sessions, the first 3 sessions were presented on Day 1 while the remaining two was on Day 2 (August 25). Like in the previous pre-conference workshops, the organizers have chosen a pool of great speakers who have presented their current projects, and even share expertise to the conduct of a successful biorisk management system. Session 1 was entitled: Bioterrorism in Reality – What You Should Know, Session 2 was Leadership in Biorisk management – the Need for Empowerment, Session 3 was National Bio-Preparedness in the Next Pandemic. Lunch was served after the first session.

During the quick coffee break, participants had the opportunity to mingle with other delegates. And also, it was on the first day that the selected 10 final poster presenters posted their work in the provided poster stands at the back of the hall. Four of the 10 finalists came from the Philippines namely: Mr. Billexter Bonifacio and Ms. Karen Reyes (St. Luke’s Medical Center – Quezon City), Dr. Jeneffer R. Bulawan (Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory), and Ms. Gemma Galope (St. Luke’s Medical Center – Global City).

After the day 1 sessions, the organizers were then preparing for the A-PBA Annual General Meeting and it was then proceeded to a welcome dinner. It was a night to remember as each and everyone got to meet new acquaintances and even provided some spot to perform: dance or sing or both.

The said morning sessions were loaded with so many information useful in harnessing advancement in Science and Technology, not taking for granted the challenges this may bring to the people doing activities related to new scientific innovations and discoveries.

During the lunch break, poster presenters were tasked to stay beside their posters for the final judging (Figure 6). This also provided more opportunities for the delegates to interact with other attendees and make collaborations and networking.

After the lunch buffet, we headed back again to the conference hall for the afternoon sessions. And as we expected, the sessions were as loaded and as interesting as the previous ones. As the conference was about to put to an end, special announcements were made first, President Chua Teck-Mean introduced his newly elected successor, Dr. T.S.Saraswathy Subramaniam from the Institute for Medical Research Malaysia (Figure 7A); then the next venue for the APBA Conference which is still not final but they mentioned, Bali, Indonesia; and also they announced special awards of excellence to two of the 10 final poster presenters: Mr. Billexter Bonifacio from St. Luke’s Medical Center, Philippines (Figure 7B) and Hazar Belli Abdelkefi from Tunisian    Ministry of Local Affairs and Environment Immeuble ICF Centre, Tunisia.


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