The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) helping build global health security by building capacity for emerging threat biosurveillence and lab biosafety in Iraq.
Specifically, BTRP is providing support to Iraq’s Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) and supporting laboratory renovations, equipment procurement, and associated training for the Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Higher Education. The FETP develops Iraq’s field epidemiology workforce to rapidly identify and respond to outbreaks, with an emphasis on pathogens of high consequence (such as biological warfare agents or potentially pandemic pathogens).
Despite delays caused by COVID-19, BTRP and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) partnered to provide training and mentorship for Iraq’s first cohort of intermediate-level FETP residents, which included human health practitioners and veterinarians. This cohort graduated on January 16, 2021 and the ceremony was attended by Iraq’s Minister of Health and other senior officials who expressed appreciation for BTRP’s support. FETP reinforces sustainability and enhances Iraq’s ability to monitor and respond to outbreaks such as COVID-19.
Despite delays and movement restrictions caused by COVID-19, BTRP also successfully completed renovations, equipment procurement and associated training at the Muthanna Veterinary Laboratory in Iraq. This engagement improved security, safety, and diagnostic capacity at the lab. An opening ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to inaugurate the laboratory on January 21, 2021. The event was attended by key personnel such as the Muthanna province governor, the Iraqi Veterinary Directorate Director General, the Dean of Muthanna Veterinary College, the Muthanna Lab Director, the Baghdad Central Veterinary Lab Director, and Iraqi media representatives.
BTRP’s laboratory engagements improve Iraq’s ability to safely detect dangerous pathogens and reduce the threat of violent extremist organizations gaining access to weaponizable biological material.
Adapted from story by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency