By Iyemah David

Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN) pledged its advocacy support to the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), to promote biosafety initiatives for a secure and sustainable future.

AHBN Coordinator, Dr Aminu Magashi Garba, made the pledge on Monday in Abuja, when he paid an advocacy visit to NBMA, ahead of the third session of the Working Group and 2023 Meeting of States Parties on the strengthening of the UN Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva.

He said that advocacy in the field of Information Technology (IT) was crucial for the NBMA as it would aid the agency in raising awareness about the impact of IT on biosafety regulations.

“Effective advocacy ensures that the agency stays informed about technological advancements, adapts its policies accordingly, and fosters public understanding of the intersection between IT and biosafety.

“This proactive approach enhances the agency’s ability to address emerging challenges and maintain relevance in a rapidly evolving technological landscape,” he said.

Dr Magashi said that the third session of the Working Group on the Strengthening of the Biological Weapons Convention would take place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland from December 4 to 8, 2023.

He disclosed that the Working Group would be chaired by Ambassador Flavio Soares Damico of Brazil, with Ambassador Camille Petit of France and Mr Irakli Jgenti of Georgia as Vice-Chairs.

He disclosed that the 2023 Meeting of States Parties will take place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland from December, 11-13 2023.

The coordinator said that AHBN is a member of the Bio-Security/Safety Action Package of the Global Health Security Agenda.

Magashi emphasised AHBN’s commitment to supporting the NBMA with advocacy and awareness of the need for multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder support to the implementation of the National Bio-Security Policy and Action Plan (2022-2026).

He reiterated the need for the country to actively participate in the United Nations Biological Weapons Convention and other Global Health and Bio-Security Agenda and Mechanisms.

Earlier, Dr Agnes Yemisi Asagbra, DG/CEO NBMA, said that NBMA in the country plays a crucial role in ensuring the safe handling, transfer, and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to protect human health, biodiversity, and the environment.

Dr Asagbra said that it regulates and monitors activities related to modern biotechnology to prevent potential risks and promote responsible biotech practices in the country.

She welcomed the idea of advocacy and awareness that AHBN committed to while acknowledging that an MoU should be created on the mutually agreed partnership between AHBN and NBMA.