For Immediate Release
REMARKS (as prepared)
Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Daniel Bischof
Opening Ceremony of the Third Country Training Program (TCTP) Workshop on Biological Threats
Good morning! It is a pleasure to be here today as we launch this joint United States-Singapore Third Country Training Program workshop on Biological Threats.
I would like to welcome the participants that we have here today, representing each of the ASEAN countries and Timor Leste. I hope that you enjoy your time here in Singapore.
We live in a world where biological threats are a question of when not if. These threats respect neither persons nor national borders. Many threats are health security concerns with wider implications for national security and defense.
Our preparation today dictates whether these events will become epidemics that spread across the globe undetected or whether our surveillance networks and biological threat protocols yield quick detection, quarantine, and treatment.
The work that each of you are doing day-to-day is a key part of that detection and response network.
When we talk about pandemics, people often think about the H1N1 virus that infected over 30% of the worlds’ population between 2009 and 2010. Or they may think about the 2014 Ebola Virus outbreak between in West Africa.
These are just two examples of the ever-growing list of pathogens that we must track and defend against.
Complications from factors like type of transmission and delays in the identification and treatment of cases has further contributed to challenges in stopping the spread of a disease when an outbreak first emerges.
A recent article in Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper spoke about Singapore’s vulnerability to a disease epidemic given the city-state’s high population density and extensive trade and transport links. These vulnerabilities also apply to many of the countries represented in this room.
Over the next five days, you will undergo hands-on training with the goal of improving your effectiveness in the processing and containment of biological threats. I hope that you all learn something new to take home and share with the rest of your teams.
You will collaborate with counterparts from across ASEAN and the United States who will become an extension of your network to combat outbreaks.
It is our hope that the partnerships that you create this week will continue to grow and become resources for you in your country’s biological threat response preparation.
Before I close, I would like to thank our Singaporean colleagues from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Chee Chian Koh, Adelene Lim and Odelia Oh – for their continued partnership in the U.S.-Singapore Third Country Training Program.
I would also like to thank my U.S. interagency colleagues along with the presenters and facilitators for being a part of the important work that we’re doing this week.
Thank you as well to the Defence Science Organisation National Laboratories (DSO) for generously hosting the training this week.