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Liberia: FAO, Ministry of Agriculture conduct first ISAVET field research reporting programme in Monrovia


Monrovia- For the first time in Liberia, Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Agriculture, stakeholders and partners participated in a daylong interactive discussion of frontline in-Service Applied Veterinary Epidemiology Training (ISAVET) field research reporting workshop to address endemic emerging infectious and transboundary animal diseases.

Organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)-Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Disease (ECTAD), the discussion highlighted oral presentations of three findings from field research projects carried out by three Liberian ISAVET trainees who are also staff of the Ministry of Agriculture.

The objective of the workshop were to discuss and critique the research findings from the trainees and received constructive technical feedback related to veterinary field epidemiology skills developed in the frontline ISAVET training; fulfill an essential requirements to successfully complete frontline ISAVET training; established a cohort and network of ISAVET graduates in Africa; as well as strengthened networks among all stakeholders for better prevention, detection, and response of emerging infectious and transboundary animal diseases in Africa.  

The research topics covered were focused on the assessment of knowledge, attitudes and practices of the population in case of dog bite; during PPR epidemics and slaughterhouse workers. Audit of the quality of surveillance data was also addressed in these researches.

The frontline ISAVET Programme was jointly developed and launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD) of Texas A&M University in collaboration with the College of Veterinary Medicine Animal Resources and Biosecurity (COVAB), Makerere University working closely with public health, and other local partners.

The programme was piloted in Africa after several assessments conducted under the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) in different countries pointed out significant limitations in veterinary services and national-level capacity to detect and respond to infectious animal diseases.

The four-month training, the first of its kind in Africa  attracted trainees from the Veterinary Services in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Uganda. It consisted of 4 weeks of theoretical training, followed by three months of home-based mentorship field research projects at trainees’ duty stations and targeted 180 veterinarians from 14 African Countries over the next 12 months. 

In his speech, Dr. Arthur Bob Karnuah, National Project Coordinator for ECTAD, who spoke on behalf of the FAO Representative in Liberia said FAO stands ready at all time to provide the technical support to the Government of Liberia. “This ISAVET training is intended to help enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture in addressing endemic, emerging infectious and transboundary animal diseases”.

Also speaking, Dr. Fatma Soud, Senior Advisor for infectious diseases, USAID-GHSA Programme in Liberia said the United States Government through the UASID-GHSA will continue to assist the Government and people of Liberia to build a more vibrant One Health sector.

She also added that the United States Government and Liberia has a decade of partnership and collaboration to see the improvement of the health and animal sectors of Liberia. She applauded the research work of the staff of the Central Veterinary Laboratory and Epidemiology Unit, “I am impressed with the level of work you have done in the field; research is difficult especially when you have not been given the basic training”

In conclusion, Mr. Joseph Anderson, Chief Veterinary Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture, who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture Dr. Mogana S. Flomo, thanked the FAO and the USAID for the enormous support provided in strengthening the animal Health program in Liberia.

He mentioned that  the Government of Liberia remains extremely grateful to her partners most especially FAO and USAID for providing the most needed support, refurbishing and equipping the Central Veterinary Laboratory (CVL) with modern diagnostic equipment, diagnostic kits for priority zoonotic diseases, reagents and consumables.

Mr Anderson  added that FAO ECTAD has also reinforced the  CVL with  the capacity to diagnose priority zoonotic diseases and other Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs) using various techniques, including bacteriological technics,  Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISAs), Fluorescent Microscopy and Real Time-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR).