The U.S. Department of Defense’s Biological Threat Reduction Program collaborates with partner countries to counter the threat of outbreaks (deliberate, accidental, or natural) of the world’s most dangerous infectious diseases.  The program accomplishes its bio-threat reduction mission through development of a bio-risk management culture; international research partnerships; and partner capacity for enhanced bio-security, bio-safety, and bio-surveillance measures. The Biological Threat Reduction Program’s priorities in Ukraine are to consolidate and secure pathogens and toxins of security concern and to continue to ensure Ukraine can detect and report outbreaks caused by dangerous pathogens before they pose security or stability threats.

Current executive agents of the Biological Threat Reduction Program in Ukraine are the Ministry of Health, the State Service of Ukraine for Food Safety and Consumer Protection, the National Academy of Agrarian Sciences, and the Ministry of Defense.

Ministry of Defense (MOD) COVID-19 Response Assistance

Sanitary-Epidemiological Department (SED) of the Medical Command of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense received four mobile laboratories from DTRA with the goal of reinforcing the system of epidemiological surveillance in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense received an official Order from the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine concerning the deployment of the mobile labs to the regions of Kyiv, Lviv and Eastern Ukraine to help with the COVID-19 response.

On April 11, 2020, President Zelenskyy visited the SED unit in Pokrovskoye City, Donetsk Oblast, and familiarized himself with the capabilities of the mobile laboratories to help military and civilian people during the COVID-19 epidemic. (News article)

Laboratory Construction

BTRP has upgraded many laboratories for the Ministry of Health and the State Food Safety and Consumer Protection Service of Ukraine, reaching Biosafety Level 2. In 2019, BTRP constructed two laboratories for the latter, one in Kyiv and one in Odesa.

Science Writing Mentorship Program (www.SWMProgramUA.com)

The Science Writing Mentorship Program (SWMP) was initiated at the beginning of 2016. The overall focus of SWMP is to advance One Health initiatives and disease risk mitigation in Ukraine through effective dissemination of scientific findings at BTRP-supported laboratories. The program seeks to improve the science writing skills of participants to afford them the opportunity for publishing and obtaining grants for projects.

In addition, there is an annual Ukraine Regional One Health Research Symposium that features participants of SWMP and many others. In 2019, the Symposium had a total of 553 participants and 446 presentations.

Active Research Projects

BTRP supports many collaborative research projects through which Ukrainian and American scientists work together.  A few recent examples are:

  •  “Risk Assessment of Selected Avian EDPs Potentially Carried by Migratory Birds over Ukraine”
  • “Prevalence of Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever virus and hantaviruses in Ukraine and the potential requirement for differential diagnosis of suspect leptospirosis patients”
  •   “The Spread of African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) in Domestic Pigs and Wild Boars in Ukraine – Building Capacityfor Insight into the Transmission of ASFV through Characterization of Virus Isolates by Genome Sequencing and Phylogenetic Analysis”
  • “ASFBiosurveillanceand ASF Regional Risk Assessment: A Field to Plate Survey”

Conferences

BTRP invites Ukrainian scientists to participate in scientific conferences worldwide where they have the opportunity to present their work and integrate into the international science community.

Biosurveillance Network of the Silk Road (BNSR)

In 2016 the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and the State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection signed a memorandum on joining a multi-national working group with the goal to strengthen global health security and create well-functioning disease surveillance networks in the Eastern European region that includes Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.

By Rumi