The second ‘World Health Organisation (WHO) - Tropical Disease Research (TDR) Asian Bio-safety Training Course’ to create awareness about bio-safety and bio-security in laboratories that carry out advanced research on hazardous substance began here on Monday.

Being organised by the Madurai-based Centre for Research in Medical Entomology (CRME), a laboratory under Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a total of 25 delegates from 10 countries are taking part in this five-day meet.

V. M. Katoch, Director General of ICMR, who inaugurated the first conference held at Madurai in June, sent a message of appreciation to the meet.

B.K. Tyagi, Director In-charge of CRME, told The Hindu the objective was to apprise researchers of the measures to be taken up in laboratories that carry out sophisticated research on bacteria, virus and other kinds of organisms that could be hazardous to health.

At present many research studies were underway to study epidemics and disease outbreaks. The research personnel need to know that they are also subject to exposure and be aware of the material they are working on, said Dr. Tyagi.

Yeya Toure, Leader, BL 5, WHO/TDR, Geneva, Switzerland, thanked the Government of India, the State and local authorities for their support to the earlier bio-safety , which was the first such programme to be held in Asia.

These different activities were part of a WHO framework to provide support to countries in terms of developing guidelines and principles to deal with potential use of genetically modified vectors, he said.

The framework involves Mexico, Brazil, Kenya, India and Thailand, which are working in collaboration with bio-safety training centres that develop the principles, he said. “We have funded three regional training centres with one for Africa coordinated by Mali, one for Asia coordinated by India and hosted by CRME, and one for Latin America,” said Dr. Yeya Toure.

Ali A. Mohammadi, Scientist, WHO/TDR, Switzerland, said that WHO was organising a lot of such bio-safety courses throughout the world with one held last week for the Interpol with respect to bio-terrorism.

Madama Bourare, Head, Department of Zoology from Mali, Prof. R. Selvaraj Pandian, Former member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the CRME, D.V.P. Raja, Director and Secretary, Madurai Institute of Social Sciences, who is also the Chairman of the Ethics Committee of CRME, were also present during the inaugural session.