The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Institute of Health (NIH) today jointly launched two sets of documents, namely (i) Code of Conduct for Life Scientists 2020 and (ii) National Guidelines for Collection, Storage and Export of Human Biological Materials 2020”. Foreign Secretary Mr. Sohail Mahmood and Executive Director NIH Maj. Gen. Dr Aamer Ikram SI(M) were present during the launching ceremony organized at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs..
The purpose of the two documents is to specify guidelines for responsible conduct of stakeholders linked to life sciences in Pakistan. The two documents further strengthen Pakistan’s implementation of its national legislative requirements and international obligations and are consistent with the latest global standards and best practices.
As a Party to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), Pakistan seeks to promote to the fullest extent possible research, development and application of scientific discoveries as well as international cooperation in the field of biology for peaceful uses while ensuring that such activities remain consistent with the objectives of the BWC. An Inter-Agency Task Force on regulation of Bioscience and Technology is chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which is the national focal point for the BWC. The Task Force maintains engagement with all national stakeholders for constantly reviewing national legislation, rules and regulations to ensure their effectiveness against the backdrop of rapid developments in the field of life sciences. The NIH plays a key role in the Task Force as the national focal point for bio-safety and bio-security in the country.
The first version of the Code of Conduct for Life Scientists was issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force in 2010. The 2020 version of the Code updates the document in the light of advancements in the field of life sciences since that time and the latest international best practices.
The National Guidelines for Collection, Usage, Storage, and Export of Human Biological Materials 2020 seek to regulate various activities involving human biological materials and address related ethical, safety and security issues. Among other things, the Guidelines require an export license from the Strategic Export Control Division (SECDIV), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for the export, re-export, transit and transshipment of human, plant and animal pathogens, toxins, genetically modified organisms and any living material. Approval of the Bioethics Committee, Pakistan Health Research Council, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination, will be mandatory for seeking SECDIV license.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for strengthening of national regulations in the field of life sciences at the global and national levels.
17 July 2020