Lagos leads biotechnologies awareness

Prof. Akin Abayomi, Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, at the ninth African Conference on One Health and Biosecurity, alongside esteemed partners from the Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment (GET) Consortium, on Monday, said the yearly conference, a testament to a commitment spanning nine years, was born from the exigencies of the 2014 and 2015 Ebola outbreak.

Abayomi said recognising the interconnectedness of health across African mega-cities, Lagos State has been at the forefront, steering this pivotal gathering to foster awareness and address trends in biosafety and biosecurity across the region.

He said this year’s focus zeroes in on the intricate realm of synthetic biology, a rapidly evolving field with transformative potential.

Abayomi emphasised the dual nature of synthetic biology and other emerging biotechnologies, showcasing both its promising benefits for humanity and its potential for misuse, underscoring the need for heightened awareness and regulation.

In his words: “We are here today, at the ninth African Conference on One Health and Biosecurity which the Ministry of Health is organising in partnership with the Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment (GET) Consortium. We have this conference every year. We have had it for the last nine years, triggered by the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and 2015, and we found it necessary to keep the culture of having this annual conference, to bring awareness on the trends around biosafety and biosecurity to the people of Lagos, Nigeria, West Africa and Africa as a whole.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Health, Mrs. Kemi Ogunyemi, emphasised the significance of this initiative in fortifying safety and security for every citizen. She underscored the imperative role of informed decisions for policy-making, advocating for collaborative efforts to safeguard the populace.

Chief Operating Officer of GET Consortium, Dr. Ayodotun Bobadoye, highlighted the pressing need to confront emerging biosecurity threats, citing recent occurrences of diseases like Lassa fever, COVID-19, and Ebola. Bobadoye said the conference aims to explore the prospects of biotechnologies like synthetic biology and gene editing while navigating the associated risks and devising strategic guidelines for Nigeria’s prudent engagement in these domains.

Director of Communications Lagos State Ministry of Health, Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, said Lagos State, renowned for its proactive measures, remains committed to bolstering its preparedness to counter biosecurity threats, leveraging initiatives like this conference to augment awareness and capacity building.

As the conference progresses, he added, experts, legislators, and stakeholders get together to discuss how to create a more secure future despite ever evolving biosecurity threats.

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