ISLAMABAD -  A Biosafety Level 3 Laboratory was inaugurated at the National Institute of Health (NIH) Tuesday for handling of high-risk microorganisms that are too hazardous to be handled in the general laboratories.

Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar inaugurated the state-of-the-art laboratory facility, saying the that present government is determined to build the country’s national capacity for preparedness towards detection and response to public health threats in a timely and reliable manner.

She commenting on the killings of three health workers involved in polio vaccination drive in Karachi said that provinces should enhance the security of health workers. “Not only health workers but mosques, security officials and schools are being targeted but targeting polio vaccination teams who secure the future generations from paralyzing is dreadful and unfortunate,” she added.  

Informing about the lab she said that a full-fledged Bio safety Lab, which will serve the nation a long way and complement effectively the international efforts being made for combating the fight against pathogens having high potential of causing disease epidemics and outbreaks.

Today not only we are facing challenges like Tuberculosis, Typhoid, Malaria and childhood diseases needing preventive vaccines but diseases like Congo fever, Dengue, different Influenza viruses along with newly also emerging infectious diseases like Corona virus pose public health threats. International travel, which has much increased during last one to two decades, facilitates rapid spread of diseases between various countries, regions and continents.

The transportation of infected samples having hazardous microorganisms for the purpose of laboratory diagnosis is being discouraged worldwide. In this situation, developing countries like Pakistan must have indigenous laboratory capacity to provide timely and accurate support for early detection of diseases and timely management of the patients.

Therefore, establishment of this state-of-art advanced BSL-3 laboratory facility in the public sector is actually fulfilling an absolute need of the hour, which will foster confidence of medical professionals and help the people of Pakistan. This addition will further augment the laboratory diagnostic capacity at the National Institute of Health.

Saira Afzal Tarar said that the establishment of this BSL-3 laboratory at NIH undoubtedly reinforces Pakistan’s commitment as a signatory member of International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005 and a responsible member of international community.

As a premier public health organisation, the National Institute of Health will provide its technical expertise and support to provincial Governments in this regard. It is highly encouraging that along with rapid diagnosis, these lab facilities will allow for advanced scientific research and development in virology and molecular biology on pathogens of public health importance in collaboration with relevant counterpart scientific organizations.