Biosafety and Biosecurity Unit (BBU) is one of the support units within the Division of National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL), under the Department of Laboratory Services (DLS) tasked with strengthening of biosafety and biosecurity systems not only at the national level but sub-national level as well. 

Biosafety and Biosecurity was established at NPHL in 2011 as a section to support the reference laboratories based on the fact that there was need to protect the personnel and the environment from pathogens, chemicals and other potentially hazardous agents in addition to ensuring that there is safe custody of pathogens in laboratories so that they are not used as harmful agents to the population.  

It has since transformed into a unit that is generally charged with focusing on implementation of Laboratory Quality Management Systems (LQMS) strengthening through training and capacity building of Health Care Workers on Biosafety and Biosecurity at both national and county levels. The unit also provides technical expertise not only to National Public Health Reference laboratories on all matters relating to biosafety and biosecurity but also to counties as well as other institutions and partners implementing laboratory biosafety and biosecurity.  

Current Biosafety/Biosecurity focus

The current focus of the unit and Ministry of Health in general (as far as biosafety and biosecurity is concerned) is mainly to enhance knowledge and capacity to handle pathogens of pandemic potential such as hemorrhagic fevers (e.g. Ebola) and pandemic flu and Covid-19. Special focus has also been put on enhancement of laboratory capacity to handle highly virulence bacteria such Anthrax, Brucella, Shigella, Cholera. The Ministry regards any pathogen that is multidrug resistant (MDR) as a potential threat to public safety. Pathogens of zoonotic potential such as those that cause Rabies, Campylobacteriosis, among others are also given special focus. Pathogens that have a potential to contaminate food and cause national wide outbreaks are of special concern. These include Salmonella, Shigella, Staphylococcus, and enteric viruses.  

Biosafety & Biosecurity Unit Mandate

  • Participate in development, validation and dissemination of standard operating procedures for operations requiring application of biosafety and biosecurity protocols 
  • Support National and County, Private and public diagnostic facilities in developing strategies that ensure safe disposal of medical waste.  
  • Support National and County, Private and Public diagnostic facilities in to transport and store biological materials in conditions that eliminate possibility of public exposure to pathogens or harmful chemicals or residuals generated from testing laboratories or from remnant sampled submitted to analysis in various laboratories   
  • Coordinate the integrated courier system of the Directorate of Laboratory Services 
  • Collaborate with security agencies such and the Police in addressing issues related to biosafety and biosecurity for biological materials  
  • Support Ministry of Health compliance to its global obligations on all matters relating to Laboratory biosafety and biosecurity including UN Resolution 1540, Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) among others  
  • Support National as well as County laboratories on the implementation of laboratory biosafety and biosecurity based on international standard/best practices through on-site mentorships, safety audits and risk assessments. 
  • Support the provision of services, including management, extraction and safe destruction or disposal of biological materials generated from surveillance and diagnostic operations in different departments and divisions of the directorate. 
  • Coordinate all laboratory biosafety and biosecurity activities (e.g trainings and other related activities) supported by different partners (at all Levels) for synchronized implementation in line with set standards, norms and protocols provided by the division 
  • Ensure that isolates and samples as well as other Valuable Biological Materials (VBM) archived in different Laboratories within the Department do not pose a risk to the staff or the public. 

Activities Conducted

  • Coordinated laboratory biosafety and biosecurity activities (e.g trainings and other related activities) among local implementing partners across country.
  • Comprehensive biosafety training needs assessment across the counties (updated training data generated)
  • Conducted basic biorisk management trainings for 12/14 high risk Counties the MOH C-HERP funded by World Bank
  • Conducted virtual Biosafety/Biosecurity Refresher training for Llaboratories to enhance personnel safety particularly during Covid-19 pandemic
  • Provided technical support and guidance to local implementing partners and other stakeholders on matters biosafety and biosecurity
  • Conduct comprehensive biorisk assessments in the 10 VL/EID testing Labs including NHRL
  • Reviewed Biosafety/Biosecurity Guideline based on One-Health Approach
  • Conducted fire drills and emergency evacuation procedures
  • Conducted mapping of incinerator capacities country wide
  • Developed Guanidinium Thiocyanate (GTC) Guideline – strengthen laboratory chemical waste management.
  • Developed GTC guideline to inform proper disposal of laboratory waste containing GTC

On-going Activities 

  • Coordination of laboratory biosafety and biosecurity activities among local implementing partners across country. 
  • Basic laboratory biorisk management trainings within specific partner supported counties 
  • Internal review/validation of the GTC guideline & Incinerator mapping report 
  • Review of Laboratory biosafety/biosecurity guideline based on One-Health 

Planned Activities  

  • Continued coordination of Biosafety & Biosecurity activities among the local implementing partners   
  • Finalization of Laboratory Biosafety & Biosecurity Guideline Review on the Context of One Health 
  • Launch and dissemination of Guanidium Isothiocyanate (GTC) Waste Management and Disposal Guideline 
  • Set-up special waste (GTC) pooling/referral networks across counties based on incinerator mapping report 
  • Orientation of the existing Biosafety Biosecurity ToTs on the new One-Health Biorisk management curriculum (KLBRMC) through the support different partners 
  • Scale-up training of Laboratory personnel on Basic Biosafety on Biosecurity (at National and County Level) using the new BRM Curriculum  

Collaboration & Implementing Partners 

  1. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); DGHT and DGHP 
  1. Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) 
  1. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) 
  1. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) 
  1. World Health Organization (WHO) 

Unit Personnel Information  

 Name  Title  Specialities  Email 
Kennedy K. Yatich Head, Biosafety/Biosecurity Unit Ordinary Diploma Medical Lab Sciences (MLS), HND Clinical Chemistry, BSC Biochemistry, Biorisk (Biosafety/Biosecurity) Management Expert & International Trainer (Certified by the International Federation of Biosafety Associations – IFBA) 
Mikali Kuya Waswa Deputy Head, Biosafety/Biosecurity Unit Certificate in Medical Lab Sciences (MLS), Biosafety Officer (BO) 
John Kirui Biosafety Officer (BO)  BSC Microbiology, MSC Microbiology, TB 
Ronald Makori Atambo Biosafety Officer (BO)  BSC Medical Lab Sciences (MLS), Biosafety trainer