1. What is GIBACHT?
GIBACHT stands for Global Partnership Initiated Academia for Controlling Health Threats. It is sponsored by the Federal Foreign Office of the government of Germany. It is a consortium of four institutions namely Bernhard Notch Institute of Tropical Medicine (BNITM) in Hamburg - Germany, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin - Germany, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (SwissTPH) in Basel – Switzerland and the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) in Kampala – Uganda. The consortium is led by BNITM.
2. What are its objectives?
Its objectives are to raise awareness on the risks posed by biosecurity and biosafety. It conducts joint training in epidemic protection and bioterrorism prevention and establishes cooperation in international disease protection. It aims at strengthening of national and regional competence centers for infection epidemiology, biosafety and disaster preparedness and equips trainees with skills to be multipliers and conduct further education on biosafety and disaster preparedness.
3. How is the training conducted?
The GIBACHT training includes online modules and three face-to-face one-week workshops in Hamburg, Berlin and Kampala as well as in-between-workshops assignments. The first workshop takes place in Hamburg. This is the first face-to-face workshop, groups in which the case study development is to be conducted are formed, the fellows are taken through the expectations of the GIBACHT fellowship and they are also exposed to the principles of Biosafety and Biosecurity. The second workshop takes place in Berlin but in the interlude, there are assignments which the fellows are expected to work on and report on before the Berlin workshop. One of the assignments is to conduct a Scientific Exchange session in their institutions as a way to multiply the concepts of the training to be transmitted through case studies. The Berlin workshop gives the opportunity to fellows to work in scenarios of possible biosecurity scenarios, managing a possible mass exposure outbreak and practicing using personal protective equipment.
By this time, the fellows would have developed their case studies and they are supported to finalize them and pre-test them in their institutions before the Kampala workshop. The Kampala workshop is the last one among the three workshops. In the Kampala workshop the GIBACHT fellows pilot their case studies on biosafety and biosecurity which they have been developing on a real audience of students from Makerere University. They also are exposed to One Health concepts and the potential dangers that interaction between humans, domestic and wildlife poses to emerging infectious diseases.
4. How old is the consortium?
The consortium started in 2014. So far five cohorts have been conducted. The first phase had two cohorts. The federal government extended the time for the project and they had three cohorts in the second phase. The same four institutions BNITM, RKI, Swiss TPH and AFENET have been together throughout all the five cohorts.
5. Where do participants for the GIBACHT fellowship come from?
The main target audience are post-graduates, who are employed in biosafety-relevant occupations, e.g. at national or regional public health institutes. Some participants come from Universities, Ministries of Health especially departments focussed on emergency preparedness, research institutes and organizations that conduct surveillance. The countries of focus are those from Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
6. How does the project intend to use the skills impacted to benefit public health?
Public health focuses on preventing diseases, prolonging life and promoting physical health. Through increasing knowledge and skills of biosafety and biosecurity, the participants train other people from their countries in how to control infectious diseases. First of all, the participants have increased knowledge and skills. Secondly, the participants get skills to conduct trainings in their institutions thus acting as multipliers of the knowledge and skills they would have acquired. The knowledge and skills would equip the trainees on how to stop the spread of infectious diseases and therefore prevent other people from acquiring the diseases and prolong life of those who would have been infected had the disease not been controlled.