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FAO in Sierra Leone

Strengthening laboratory capacity to conduct efficient surveillance

The ECTAD/GHSA Team Lead, Tesfai Tseggai touring the renovation site with the U. S Ambassador, John Hoover, the Minister of Agriculture, Patrick Monty Jones, the FAO Representative, Nyabenyi Tipo and delegation
12/06/2017

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS)  on Thursday, 8 June 2017 held a groundbreaking event for the refurbishment of the Teko Central Veterinary Laboratory.

The activity is part of FAO’s efforts to strengthen laboratory capacity at country and district levels to conduct surveillance of priority zoonotic diseases under the project, Supporting the Global Health Security Agenda to address zoonotic diseases and animal health which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Addressing the audience at the groundbreaking event at the Teko ground in Makeni, Bombali District, the Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security, Patrick Monty Jones stated that livestock development is special to attaining protein level and food sufficiency in Sierra Leone.  

“We need a functional laboratory to carry out diagnoses on animals and possible zoonotic diseases”, Jones stressed.

He told the audience that the essence of the laboratory will surely be noticed in a not too distant future, when it will be equipped and capacitated enough to detect and prevent potential threat to the country. “If this station was effective, maybe, we would have detected the emergence of the Ebola virus disease was coming”, he lamented.

The FAO Representative in Sierra Leone, Nyabenyi Tipo said that the rehabilitation exercise is a clear demonstration of the good partnership between FAO, the Government of Sierra Leone and the United States of America.

“Successful operation of the Teko Laboratory will not only depend on the administrative structure and the capacity of its personnel, but on the sustained supply of samples from the field”, she noted.

Tipo explained that FAO follows a holistic approach to developing the livestock sector, including support in the areas of policy, animal health, production and productivity. She informed the gathering that FAO has earmarked additional equipment and reagents that are essential for bringing the lab back to a fully functional central national laboratory offering services to livestock owners in Sierra Leone.  

The United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone John Hoover expressed satisfaction to being a partner in helping to rebuild the Sierra Leone’s animal health sector, which can enable the country to stop future outbreaks before they become epidemics.

The Teko Central Veterinary Laboratory located at Makeni was established in the 1949 to provide animal health services to farmers in Sierra Leone, especially in the north. The laboratory became renowned in the areas of bacteriology, parasitological, haematology, histopathology, serology, production vaccine against Contagious Bovine Pleuro-pneumonia (CBPP) and research, which made it one of the major referral centre on animal health in West Africa.

Suddenly, work in the lab declined due to the destructions caused by the civil conflict, and consequently, the lack of constant funding, lack of maintenance of equipment, lack of reagents, consumables and staff attrition.

With the funding from USAID, FAO is undertaking a major renovations, including structural changes on the building, construction of perimeter fences, provision of water and electricity, adequate disposal of hazardous materials. FAO will equally equip the laboratory with essential consumables and simultaneously train staff in consultation with MAFFS.

Once completed, the refurbished Teko laboratory will be the central point of contact for samples collected for diseases such as rabies, avian influenza and anthrax and other priority zoonotic diseases, and diseases of high economic impact.

Contact:

Keifa Jaward

Communication Consultant, FAO Sierra Leone

Keifa.Jaward@fao.org