Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. 29 November 2022. From November 21-25, 2022, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) facilitated the training of laboratory personnel on the safe preparation and transportation of samples, at an International Air Transport Association (IATA)-CARPHA Infectious Substances Transport-Train the Trainer Workshop.
The face-to-face workshop was held at the Hilton Trinidad with funding from the European Union and the Republic of Korea-CARICOM Cooperation Fund. Thanks to CARPHA and donor agencies, since 2016, more than 300 laboratory personnel from 10 Member States have been trained on how to safely prepare shipments of infectious substances.
Dr. Lisa Indar, CARPHA Director, Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control emphasised the critical need for strengthening the Region’s human resource capacity in light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the more recent threats of monkeypox, cholera and polio. in delivering her opening remarks at the training, Dr. Indar explained the importance of this exercise. “Through workshops such as these, CARPHA collaborates with external partners to increase the level of biosafety and biosecurity in the CARPHA Member States, thereby promoting compliance with international standards and regulations as together we embrace the vision of healthy people, healthy spaces, healthy Caribbean.”
Dr. Michelle Hamilton, CARPHA Head of Laboratory Services and Networks, pointed out that the need to ensure adequate biosafety measures in the transportation of samples on airline carriers and courier services has increased in significance. She said, “It is therefore imperative for CARPHA to continue to upgrade its services to better support the diagnosis and characterisation of new and emerging pathogens such as Monkeypox virus, SARS-CoV-2 and Ebola in its Member States.”
IATA instructor, Mr. Ajay Pande stated, “The standardisation of policies to limit the environmental impact on IATA members remains a priority to IATA. Workshops like these give an added assurance of safety as it relates to the shipping of infectious substances from CARPHA Member States.”
Workshop participants expressed their gratitude for the training received. Ms. Madhu Rodjan, Medical Laboratory Technologist, Central Laboratory of Suriname said, “I can now give others information on shipping infectious substances in the correct way, having the Infectious Substance Shipping Regulations (ISSR) in mind.”
Ms. Kaitia Clifton, Laboratory Assistant, Health Authority of Anguilla expressed a similar sentiment, “With this training, we will have the capacity to train more people, and this will be a huge advancement for Anguilla.”
The November workshop was the 2nd CARPHA-IATA Train-the-Trainer Course for Infectious Substances Shipping to be held this year, in accordance with best practices and standards. CARPHA is also committed to the advancement of Regional and Global Health Security through the achievement of the requirements of the World Health Organization International Health Regulations (IHR) of which Biosafety and Biosecurity is a core capacity.