Dr Eva Mertens and Dr Dewi Ismajani Puradiredja presented the joint alumni network initiative at the Medical Biodefense Conference 2023 in Munich on behalf of the ‘Global Partnership Initiated Biosecurity Academia for Controlling Health Threats (GIBACHT)’ and the ‘German Online Platform for Biosecurity & Biosafety (GO4BSB)’ consortia.
Since 2013, the framework of the Federal Foreign Office funded German Biosecurity Programme provides training in biosafety and biosecurity, improving the capacity of partner countries to respond to biological risks. The multilateral fellowship training programme GIBACHT has trained over 100 public health professionals from 27 partner countries, and the GO4BSB platform has supported more than 950 users from over 50 countries with digital teaching and learning content. In order to sustain biosecurity capacities and to strengthen regional networks, it is important to capitalise on the by-now considerable number of programme alumni. To this end, GIBACHT and GO4BSB have joined forces to implement a programme-wide alumni initiative. Participants who successfully completed a training by a German Biosecurity Programme project are invited to become part of the programme’s alumni community and to enrol in the GO4BSB-based alumni portal. Alumni engagement activities include professional networking opportunities via GO4BSB, webinars on biosecurity related topics, and tailored initiatives such as the ’GIBACHT Regional Strengthening Initiative’. These activities positively impact interactions among all participants of the German Biosecurity Programme by providing opportunities for networking, knowledge sharing, and collaboration. Moreover, it strengthens the social capital among partner institutions in Germany and abroad, contributing to the sustained impact of the programme.