A new biological containment laboratory has been officially handed over by the Government of Canada to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
The Biosafety Level 3 facility is the first of its kind for the Caribbean region.
Manufactured by Germfree, a Florida, US-based supplier of biocontainment equipment, the facility was provided to CARPHA in cooperation with the Pan-American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (WHO). The laboratory is expected to enable fast detection, diagnosis and response to infectious disease outbreaks, whether naturally occurring or deliberately caused.
'In our modern age where global travel is routine and disease knows no boundaries a well-equipped safe and secure biological laboratory is an essential tool in the fight against infectious disease,' said His Excellency Gerard Latulippe, High Commissioner for Canada to Trinidad & Tobago, at the recent laboratory handover event.
'As underscored by ongoing outbreaks of diseases such as chikungunya here in the Caribbean, as well as ebola in West Africa, and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the Middle East, isolated disease threats can very quickly become regional or global menaces, presenting serious threats to the health, safety and security of the people of the world.'
The new facility will be a critical global public health asset, providing advanced disease surveillance.
'This first class lab will enable us to be even better prepared for any emergencies that can be caused by pathogenic agents through early detection and enhanced response capabilities,' said Fuad Khan, Minister of Health, Trinidad and Tobago.
The facility is set up to process and rapidly identify, in a safe and secure environment, samples suspected for a diverse range of diseases – including yellow fever, West Nile virus, rabies, hantavirus, anthrax, drug-resistant MTB and emerging infectious diseases with epidemic potential.