Volume 1, No. 3, 2022

Pages 20-33

Existing Biosecurity and Biosafety Frameworks, Policies, and Institutions in ECOWAS Countries: A Review

Abayomi I1,2, Abdourahmane S3, Bobadoye A2,4* Olivier M3 , Issiaka S3, Alabi I2 , Stanley O3, Bobadoye B4

 1Lagos State Ministry of Health

2Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium (GET)

3West Africa Health Organization (WAHO)

4Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria

 *Corresponding Author: Bobadoye Ayodotun, Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium (GET), Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria. Author’s Email:

Orcid No:


This study reviews the current biosecurity and biosafety policies and institutional landscapes in West Africa. Given the increase in biosecurity threats, especially increase in frequency and intensity of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases in West Africa, it is important to analyse the current policies and institutional landscape and their ability to ensure a biosecured region. Advances in science, technology, and biotechnology, which has improved global practices, bettered our understanding of daily activities, exposed the world to a vast body of knowledge, has at the same time enhanced the frequency of outbreak of biological threats. The capacity of various nations to prevent, detect and respond to emerging infectious diseases has been undermined due to numerous challenges unique to each country, hence the need to study the existence and the extent of biosecurity and biosafety policies, framework, and institutions in ECOWAS states/countries. Data were collected using semi-structured questionnaire, key informant interview and desk study. This study revealed that several legislative instruments and policy responses had been enacted to address biosecurity and biosafety challenges in West African countries; however, the translation of these policies and legislative instruments in documents to practices remains a hurdle owing to multiple challenges including the lack of human capacity to implement policies and lack of specialized institutions that will implement the policies which would not be able to control mishandling and misuse of infectious agents and toxins, disregard for government policy due to absence of oversight of life sciences research of concern, insider and outsider threats at laboratories dealing with biological agents, and poor physical security and materials accountability including transfer and transport of infectious agents and toxins. Conclusively, to promote a safe and secure environment, emphasis must be placed on developing a curriculum for biosafety and biosecurity education that focuses on developing skills to maintain responsible health security practices and human resource incentives to drive a culture of safe and secure science. There is also the need for a clear synchronized framework that governs laboratory and biobanking activities in the West African region.

Keywords: Biosecurity, Biosafety, ECOWAS, Laboratories, Policies and Frameworks, WAHO