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             Newsletter Jan - 2015

Biosafety is the term used to describe the containment principles, technologies and practices that are implemented to prevent unintentional exposure to pathogens and toxins, or their accidental release in the environment. In response to global concern about emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases especially because of the increased national and international transfer of infectious microorganisms and growing concerns about bioterrorism, considerable interest has been generated world-over on the biosafety and biosecurity issues. In India, research work on the various infectious agents has been a regular activity since time immemorial and the realization of the threat from these organisms in spreading to a greater population was always there. However, the preparedness to combat this threat was limited to merely adopting some of the good laboratory practices and decontamination/ disinfection procedures. The use of biosafety concept as a scientific method for prevention of spread of infection through man, material and place or cross contamination within the laboratory was limited to a very few veterinary and medical laboratories in the country. Many of the biosafety guidelines and policies are mainly restricted to the handling and experimentations in the genetically modified organisms. However, with the growing realization of the threat of the exotic, emerging diseases to the country, widespread understanding has emerged to include biosafety as a major administrative and research component in the universities, laboratories and other research organizations that are handling infectious organisms for the safety of man, material and environment. India is in the process of establishing a chain of containment laboratories under human and animal health sectors however, only a few are exposed to biosafety and biosecurity norms and principles that are important in day-to-day working with high risk pathogens and operation of biosafety laboratories. In addition to bio-containment laboratories, the concept of biosafety needs to be extended to each and every establishment that handles infectious pathogens.