COMSATS talk highlights need for bio surveillance

Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad—The world needs biosurveillance more than ever before in the face of new and emerging challenges in the form of epidemics, pandemics, bioterrorism and biowarfares, which may not only pose threat to health and economy of a country but also its national security. This was highlighted in an expert talk given by Dr. Habib Bokhari, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the Department of Biosciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), Islamabad. The lecture was held on 19th April at COMSATS Secretariat under the organization’s Science Diplomacy initiative launched last year for better awareness, advocacy and diplomacy of issues pertaining to S&T led development.
A number of higher education institutions were represented at the event, including COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT); Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences (ASAB), NUST; Islamic International Medical College (IIMC), Riphah University; Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University; Abasyn University; as well as National Veterinary Laboratory, Islamabad; Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS); COMSATS Secretariat.
The Executive Director COMSATS in his welcome remarks noted that biosurveillance is need of the day. He introduced COMSATS Science Diplomacy programme and emphasized that the Lecture Series under this initiative would be an ongoing activity to create mass awareness among public and policy-makers, and that the lectures by COMSATS Science Ambassadors and experts would be held from time to time on issues of national and regional importance.
In his talk, Dr. Bokhari made an interesting presentation that covered origin of genomes; timeline of basic science in relation to infectious diseases; risks due to biological agents; emerging epidemics & pandemics; classification of bioterrorism agents/diseases and biological weaponry. The hazards caused by microbial agents were classified as: Natural outbreaks, accidental release, bio-crime, bioterrorism, and bio-warfare, as well as related challenges and opportunities. It was noted that a number of pathogens have successfully crossed species barriers, which has put humans at greater risks.

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