The new century has seen an increase in transboundary threats from disease and terrorism. The major challenge for the international community is to secure every region of the globe against these threats. Public health experts recognize that missing even one country leaves all others vulnerable, due to the ease of global travel, labor migration, and communication.
The region of Central Asia and the Caucasus is one of the largest region to cover, and one that continues to experience ongoing challenges from both terrorism and disease.
In 2008, experts from our region agreed on establishing a biosafety association that would provide a framework to overcome these challenges. With support from the Canadian Global Partnership Program and International Science and Technology Center, the Biosafety Association for Central Asia and the Caucasus (BACAC) was founded in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in November 2008.
The First BACAC Members Meeting was held in May 2009 in the same city, with ABSA-Canada and Asia-Pacific Biosafety Association providing mentoring. Dr. Bakyt Atshabar, Director of the Kazakh Scientific Centre for Quarantine & Zoonotic Diseases, became the first BACAC president. Two vice-presidents were elected: Dr. Dzhalaliddin Gaibulin, Director of the Republican Center for Quarantine & Especially Dangerous Infectious Diseases, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; and Dr. Paata Imnadze, Director of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, Tbilisi, Georgia.
In 2014 Tbilisi, Georgia, hosted the 5th Annual BACAC Conference, BACAC – Present and Future, with 160 participants. Conference participants discussed new statutes, reviewed a strategic plan and developed a mechanism for ensuring greater involvement by all members in BACAC activities. Participants also elected a new president, Dr. Farida Tishkova, Head of Virology Laboratory of the Tajik Research Institute of Preventive Medicine; and a new vice-president, Dr. Lela Bakanidze, Vice-President of the Georgian Biosafety Association (GeBSA).