Published: 11th March 2022
What the FAQ: What is the WHO's recent advisory to Ukraine?
It is noteworthy that the Ukrainian public health labs function partly on the support received from the United States, the European Union and the WHO
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine intensifies with heavy bombing on its major cities and facilities, the World Health Organization, on March 10, told news agency Reuters that it has issued an advisory to the war-torn country.
What is the WHO asking Ukraine to do?
The global health body has advised Ukraine to destroy high-threat pathogens housed in the country's public health laboratories. This, they say, is to prevent "any potential spills" that would spread disease among the population, Reuters reported.
Why do countries house pathogens?
Countries around the world study pathogens in public health facilities and Ukraine is no different. This is solely for the purposes of research and further scientific advancements. Labs that house pathogens study how to mitigate the threats of dangerous diseases affecting both animals and humans.
What is the significance of the WHO advisory?
Biosecurity experts told the news agency that this advisory needs to be seen in tandem with how Russia has been bombing Ukraine's infrastructure.This has raised the risk of an escape of disease-causing pathogens, should any of those facilities be damaged.
When was this advisory issued?
The WHO has not clarified when exactly this advisory was issued nor did it provide specifics about the kind of pathogens or toxins housed in Ukraine's laboratories. The WHO also did not answer questions about whether its recommendations were followed, Reuters reported
It is noteworthy that the Ukrainian public health labs function partly on the support received from the United States, the European Union and the WHO. Ukraine's laboratory capabilities are at the centre of an information war since Russia began moving troops into Ukraine two weeks ago.
On March 9, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova repeated a longstanding claim that the United States operates a biowarfare lab in Ukraine, an accusation that has been repeatedly denied by Washington and Kyiv, the news agency reported.