Overview of the State of Biosecurity in the Republic of Ghana

An official address by Honourable Davis Opoku Ansah MP at Parliamentary Group for Action Regional Workshop in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

I convey the compliments of the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana. I am, in turn, immensely grateful to the leadership of the Parliamentary Group for Action for organising this Regional Workshop given the context of Covid and Conflict which plagues our world today.

It is especially because of our current context that this workshop is of the utmost urgency. The threat of biological warfare has dangled over the heads of the inhabitants of our globe perhaps as long as civilisation has existed. Following a peak in the usage of biological weapons in the World Wars and the substantiated threat of continuing usage during the Cold War, it became necessary for the civilised nations of the world to band together to emphatically declare a zero tolerance for the development, production, acquisition, transfer, stockpiling and use of biological weapons through the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) which was subsequently supplemented by a 2004 Security Council Resolution 1540.

Notwithstanding the comprehensive international regulatory framework that currently exists, the prospect of biological warfare still looms large over the globe. Whiles the evidence does not support a malicious weaponization of biological agents, the recent COVID-19 Pandemic has, rightly, brought the topic to fore in the context of rapidly advancing technology in an increasingly connected globe. In the least, the devastation to the lives and livelihoods of several millions across the world and to the global economy emphasises the need for strong biosecurity regimes at the national level and increased collaboration at an international level to effectively address the changing nature of the threat of malicious and inadvertent use of toxins to endanger human life.

On our part, the Republic of Ghana has been a consistent voice for biosecurity and biosafety. Ghana is therefore a signatory to the agreements and conventions that form the international regulatory framework and has ratified most of them. This includes the International Plant Protection Convention, the International.

Health Regulations, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, the Convention on Biodiversity including the Nagoya and Cartagena Protocols and the SPS Agreement.

Nationally, the legal framework for biosecurity consists, chiefly, of the Biosafety Act, 2011 (Act 831) and Biosafety (Management of Biotechnology) Regulations, 2019 (L.I. 2383), Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851) and Meat Inspection Regulations, 2020 (L.I. 2405), the Plant and Fertilizer Act, 2010 (Act 803) and Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1994 (Act 490) which regulate the risk factors to animal life and health, plant life and health, food safety and attendant environmental risks.

There is a shared responsibility amongst different departments and agencies under various ministries which are tasked with the implementation of these laws. Crucially, the National Biosafety Authority under the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology is the focal point for biosecurity in the country and liaises with all other relevant agencies. Also, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has under it the Food and Drugs Authority tasked with ensuring all aspects of food safety, the Veterinary Services Department tasked with ensuring animal health and safety, the Plant Protection and Regulatory Service Directorate tasked with ensuring plant health and safety and serving as the Country Enquiry Point for the SPS Agreement.

This in brief shows the regulatory framework for biosecurity in Ghana. I am keen to learn about how this sector is regulated in different jurisdictions and learn what the best practices are and the areas for possible collaborations to keep all our peoples safe.

Below is a deck from Honourable Davis Opoku Ansah address.

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Davis Ansah Opoku

MP for Mpraeso Constituency. The Deputy Ranking Member-Public Accounts Committee & a member - Works & Housing committee of Parliament of Ghana.
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