Biosecurity: Current Projects and Opportunities for Cooperation

KEY CONCLUSIONS

 

Russia has an efficient system of epidemiological surveillance and infectious disease prevention

“It is evident that the number of natural disasters, changes and emergencies in Russia that has happened over the last years is leading to disruptions in the life of various communities. In this sense, measures developed in the Russian Federation that we take help avoid any epidemiological complications,” Anna Popova, Head, Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing.

“Russian Federation has a well-established and fully functioning system of infectious disease surveillance and prevention. <…> Today’s measles situation – pressing all over the world – calls for action. Based on the WHO requirements, we measure measles incidence per 1 million people. That is to say, in 2018 Russia had 17 cases per 1 million people. In certain European countries it varied from 40 to 200. In such countries as Serbia and Romania it was even higher. Updated information reveals that this number in Ukraine exceeded 1,000. Georgia had over 700 incidents,” Anna Popova, Head, Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing.

 

Russia provided crucial help in the fight against Ebola

“When Ebola hit Guinea in 2014–2015, Russia assisted us a lot, because it helped us fight against the disease. <…> Processing samples, for instance. Back then, Guinea did not have a biobank, and Russia helped us a lot. It was very important for us. We managed to collect the virus samples. It helped us take the right measures on our level and create high-tech laboratories with the support of the Russian government,” Abdoulaye Yéro Baldé, Minsiter of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Republic of Guinea.

“For this work [fight against Ebola in Guinea, – Ed.] Russia provided leading specialists and scientists. They are also practitioners. <…> During the epidemic, two major institutes were involved: Vector, the virology centre in Novosibirsk and Microbe, the anti-plague institute.    <…> These specialists can enter the focus of any extremely dangerous infectious disease, which is very important. We can proudly declare these most state-of-the-art technologies that we have just discussed and that have been developed over the years exist within Rospotdebnadzor’s unique system. State-of-the-art technologies that ensure biosecurity,” Vladimir Kutyrev, Director, Russian Anti-Plague Scientific Research Institute "Microbe".

 

African countries are interested in cooperation with Russian specialists

“I am happy that we managed to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Russian Government, because we wanted you to join our efforts. <…> We cooperated with Russia in many other areas, but not in biosecurity, and our cooperation was definitely missing that piece. Russia has an incredible experience in this area and has done colossal research. You have so many types of vaccines, and we know we can achieve a lot through cooperation,” Diana Atwine, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health of the Republic of Uganda.

“We are happy that Russian Federation will assist us, especially when it comes to biosecurity. We have signed a contract. Things will start with two mobile laboratories, and we will also start vaccination. We believe that Russia’s experience will help us strengthen the capabilities of our medical professionals involved in biosecurity. We will also get medical professionals trained by Russian ones that will fight this epidemic. It is not just Ebola, but other epidemics as well,” Eteni Longondo, Minister of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 

PROBLEMS

Infectious diseases remain a threat to human life

“The principle that dominated in the 60–70s that infectious diseases are no longer a threat as we have antibiotics and vaccines now becomes debatable and absolutely irrelevant. Today, 40–50 years later, we see a totally different picture, and we need to be prepared for it. Every country must be prepared for a pandemic attack, which of course cannot be done within one country only, because today infections do not have borders,” Anna Popova, Head, Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing.

“Diseases related to low water quality belong to the most widespread mortality causes. One should not forget that when it comes to pure drinking water, we cannot address water supply without water disposal. No water disposal or waste water treatment results in contamination of water supply sources, which creates a bigger environmental impact and a vicious circle,” Dmitry Serov, Research Fellow, Expert on Digital Technologies and Water Supply and Drainage Management, National Technological Initiative Center of Excellence, Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University.

 

SOLUTIONS

More cooperation formats for fighting infectious diseases

“Multilateral efforts will not be interrupted, yet a bigger emphasis will be put bilateral relations with respect to the experience Ms. Popova’s [Anna Popova, Head, Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor), – Ed.] Service has, because it fits our national interests and priorities and, of course, our partners’ interests,” Sergey Storchak, Deputy Finance Minister of the Russian Federation.

“There is an effective executive order <…> of the Government of the Russian Federation on providing aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2019–2020 to fight infectious disease threats. This year, the Democratic Republic of the Congo will get two mobile laboratories to apply our efforts in disease focus, and we start teaching specialists of the Democratic Republic of the Congo rules of epidemiological safety, response to epidemiological situations and working in the disease focus. This executive order also provides for supplying the Democratic Republic of the Congo with 50 thousand doses of measles vaccine, 10 thousand doses of cholera vaccine and 5 thousand doses of Ebola vaccine over this time,” Anna Popova, Head, Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing.

Using private-public partnership mechanisms

“Together with [Rospotrebnadzor, – Ed.] we made a decision to build a special diagnostic and treatment centre for epidemiology and microbiology, <…> because back then Guinea did not have a specialized centre yet. It took us 50 days to build this hospital from scratch. We did it in close cooperation with specialists from the Ministry of Health, Rospotrebnadzor, and research institutes. <…> We boast the best survival and recovery rates for this disease. Our performance is twice as good as overall statistics for Africa and Guinea during the previous pandemic. There was not a single in-hospital contraction case and not a single medical professional contracted it,” Yakov Itskov, Director of Alumina Business, RUSAL.

“Bureau Legint proposes to create a special fund that would aim to assist national governments and international healthcare organizations in preventing extremely dangerous viral diseases and fighting them. The fund’s major tasks could include assistance in organizing research and development, as well as producing pharmaceuticals and vaccines for prevention and effective treatment. Also, the fund could help organize cooperation between Russian and foreign government agencies and use their own resources, for instance, to promptly respond to outbreaks of viral diseases, prevent their dissemination and eliminate epidemic consequences,” Timofey Lyolikov, Executive Director, Bureau LEGINT.

Expanding the debt-for-aid financing mechanism

“We are gradually establishing cooperation in terms of such a particular source of financing for biosecurity projects as using the outstanding debt that we kept after a significant debt relief for a fairly large number of African countries. <…> Debt-for-aid projects are going well with the Republic of Madagascar. We have reached a certain progress in our work with Tanzania and Mozambique, though there are problems there,” Sergey Storchak, Deputy Finance Minister of the Russian Federation.

Improving vaccines and creating new ones

“In May 2019, the WHO announced a strategy to eliminate the poliomyelitis virus that would be effective until 2023. <…> Starting from 2023, vaccination of the world’s population is expected to be done with the use of inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine in order to eliminate cases of vaccine-associated polio. <…> We successfully created a joint project with the Poliomyelitis Institute so that our plant <…> could produce inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine based on the unique technology of Chumakov Institute,” Marina Mazurevskaya, Deputy Director-General on Legal Issues and Government Relations, NANOLEK.

To participants in the Russia–Africa Economic Forum

Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you at the opening of the Russia–Africa Economic Forum.

The rich history of relations between Africa and Russia has never seen an event of a similar scale. Members of government agencies and business community, and experts are meeting at this Forum to substantively discuss the current status and prospects of cooperation and a wide range of topical issues of the world economy.

Today, the countries of Africa are well on their way towards social, economic, scientific and technological development, and are playing a significant role in international affairs. They are strengthening mutually beneficial integration processes within the African Union and other regional and sub regional organizations across the continent.

In recent years, the traditionally friendly ties of partnership between Russia and Africa have gained new momentum, both at a bilateral level and in various multilateral formats. In addition to preserving our past experience of successful cooperation, we have also managed to make significant new steps forward. Trade and investment are growing dynamically, and new joint projects are under way in extractive industries, agriculture, healthcare, and education. Russian companies are ready to offer their scientific and technological developments to their African partners, and share their experience of upgrading energy, transport and communications infrastructures.

I hope that the Forum will help identify new areas and forms of cooperation, put forward promising joint initiatives that will bring the collaboration between Russia and Africa to a qualitatively new level and contribute to the development of our economies and the prosperity of our peoples.

I wish the Forum’s participants fruitful work and all the best.

Vladimir Putin

The Russia–Africa Summit, which is taking place in Sochi on 23–24 October 2019, encapsulates the historically friendly relations between the African continent and the Russian Federation. This Summit carries great significance as it is the first of its kind to emerge during a period of major global and international transformations. In response to the aspirations of the people it is representing, the Summit intends to build a comprehensive framework for expanding Russian–African relations into broader horizons of joint cooperation across different fields.

The African nations and Russia share a common understanding of international relations, based on the principles of respect for the rule of international law, equality, non-interference in the internal affairs of states, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. Both sides affirm their commitment to support multilateral actions to oppose new international threats, be they terrorism and extremism in all their forms, or declining growth rates. The two sides share a firm conviction regarding the importance of developing trade flows and supporting mutual investment in such a way as to ensure security, peace and development for the African and Russian people.

African countries have huge potential and opportunities that will allow them, once efforts to streamline their economies have been achieved, to emerge as real global players. In recent years, the nations of this continent have achieved major successes spanning the political, economic, social and administrative spheres. Africa has flourished in terms of growth over the past decade, reaching a continent-wide growth rate of 3.55% in 2018.

The African Union Summit, which was held in Niger in July 2019, continued the efforts of the African countries and saw the African Continental Free Trade Agreement come into force, along with its operational instruments. The agreement is one of the key objectives of Agenda 2063, an African development strategy that has been created to address the African people’s desire for prosperity and decent living standards.

These successes are opening up wide-ranging prospects for cooperation between African countries and the Russian Federation, and confirm the determination of African governments and their people to cooperate with multiple partners in order to establish mutually beneficial relations.

With this in mind, we express our hopes that the Russia–Africa Summit will help in the establishment of constructive strategic relations, based on partnership between two sides across various fields, and in the service of fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the African people and their friends in Russia.

President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
Abdelfattah ALSISI