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Reducing The Risk of Potential Zoonosis Disease Outbreak

©FAO/Liberia
17/07/2019

17 July 2019, Monrovia— Implementing biosecurity and biosafety measures on poultry farms and live bird markets play an important role in preventing or minimizing the introduction and spread of an infectious diseases or food safety pathogen.

In commercial, free-range poultry farms and live bird markets, the risk for disease outbreaks is high and can result in significant economic loses for the farmer and the integration. When major zoonotic disease outbreaks occur in a region, this may also result in loss of economic, employment and affect public health. A Newcastle or Influenza outbreak in an area involving numerous farms in close proximity can be catastrophic.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Liberia in early April 2019 embarked on a biosecurity and biosafety assessment mission to Montserrado, Bomi, Grand Cape, Margibi, and Grand Bassa Counties, to highlight the strengths and weaknesses in biosecurity and identify possible training needs for poultry farmers to create awareness and improve their response mechanism for potential zoonosis.

The biosecurity and biosafety assessment mission targeted 20 commercial poultry farms, 29 free-range poultry farms and 3 live birds markets. The mission revealed that the level of biosecurity and biosafety in all the three facilities is low making these farms vulnerable to various emerging and re-emerging diseases that could pose danger to the poultry sector as well as to the public.

Training Needs Identify

As the result of the findings and recommendation from the assessment, FAO in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture with the support of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) Programme organized a two-day capacity building training for commercial poultry and free-range poultry farmers as well as vendors from live birds markers. The training brought together 32 participants from Bomi, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi and Montserrado Counties.

The overall objective of the exercise was to strengthen the capacity of poultry stakeholders in biosafety and biosecurity and thus reduce the potential risks of zoonosis, animal health and economic loses in the Country.

Specifically, to share the findings of the biosecurity and biosafety assessment with the participants to create awareness and be trained on biosecurity and biosafety measures in the poultry farms and live birds markets.

Speaking at the opening session, Dr. Arthur Bob Karnuah, National Project Coordinator for ECTAD-FAO, said the importance of biosecurity and biosafety in the fight against animal diseases, especially poultry diseases cannot be over emphasized. “Biosecurity is the implementation of measures that reduces the risk of the introduction and spread of disease agents. Biosafety targets the protection of humans and the facilities that are dealing with biological agents and waste, while biosafety targets the protection of human and the facilities that are dealing with biological agents and waste””.

Also speaking at the opening session was USAID Senior Adviser for the GHSA program in Liberia, Dr. Fatma Soud, informed the participants that the United States Government through the GHSA is supporting the Government of Liberia in several areas, including governance, education, and health, economic growth, which include agriculture and poultry for income generation.

She averred that the GHSA was signed to support Countries in addressing the economic resource relating to human. She added that the training will enable participants identify diseases that affect their birds, poultry and take measures to keep them healthy and environment clear. “We encourage you to share the knowledge you acquired with other poultry farmers in your community”.

For her part, Madam E. Musu Tuahyounn, County Agriculture Coordinator for Margibi County encouraged poultry farmers to apply the knowledge acquired to identify the level of infestation and report to the Ministry of Agriculture for quick intervention.