FAO in Liberia

FAO, GoL and partners reviewed achievements and constraints in Animal Disease Surveillance and Response (ADSR)

One Health stakeholders at the one-day workshop at the One UN House in Monrovia ©FAO/Liberia

Monrovia- One Health stakeholders gathered in the One UN House in Monrovia on 21 January 2020 to share and discuss the achievements and problems encountered in the implementation of the Animal Disease Surveillance and Response (ADSR) system. The meeting was also key to identifying the improvements necessary for the proper functioning of the ADSR.

The event, organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)-Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) Programme, brought together over thirty (30) experts from the human and animal health sectors as well as other relevant national and international OH partners.

The overall objective was to improve understanding of animal health and to have better coordination of activities among One Health partners.

In January 2019, FAO through the USAID-GHSA Programme supported the establishment of an animal disease surveillance system as well as the training of its actors both at central and decentralized level. The organization and operation of this system was presented and discussed during the last stakeholder meeting organized by the veterinary services on January 30, 2019.

FAO plays key role in the animal health sector

Madam Mariatou Njie, FAO Representative in Liberia disclosed that the achievements of the animal health sector notably in capacity enhancement such as infrastructure, training and system development could not have been possible by FAO without the financial support of the USAID through the GHSA Programme.

She praised the robust efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture and relevant stakeholders in the sectors for their tireless efforts in working with FAO to ensure a vibrant agricultural sector of Liberia.

“We are grateful to USAID for their support, most importantly the establishment of the Epidemiology Unit of the MoA and the renovation and capacity building made by the Central Veterinary Laboratory (CVL). Since the establishment of the Epidemiology Unit, a lot of progress have been registered in terms of outbreak investigation and response, disease reporting whether zoonotic or non-zoonotic,” she added.

Madam Njie furthered that the CVL was able to undertake various diagnostic tests including the first confirmation of Rabies in dogs, a very common and priority zoonotic disease of the country. “These achievements are also constrained by a number of factors including lack of sufficient number of human resources and operational budget to run the veterinary service of the country.”

Also speaking, Dr. Fatma Soud, Senior Advisor for Infectious Diseases, USAID-GHSA Programme, said that the objective of the GHSA programme is to ensure that the world is more safe and secure from global health threats posed by infectious diseases.

She noted that the United States Government through the GHSA will enhance countries capacity to prevent, detect and respond to infectious diseases. Madam Soud emphasized the relevant of a more robust surveillance system to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease threats.

More support to train veterinary officers

Joseph Anderson, Chief Veterinary Officer expressed delight for the level of support provided by FAO through the USAID. “I am extremely grateful for your support in revamping the livestock sector. It was a great achievement for the Ministry of Agriculture.”

Mr. Anderson used the occasion to appeal to FAO, USAID and other development partners for additional support to enhance the human capacity of the veterinary service in Liberia. “It is my plead that more funds are attracted to support in training our veterinary officers. As you are aware, there is a huge gap in the sector, training at least five (5) veterinary officers will greatly boost the sector.”

In their remarks, Mr. Edward Smith, Chairman, College of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr. Sonpon B. Sieh, One Health Coordinator thanked FAO for making the livestock sector more effective in responding to animal disease outbreak in the country. They called on development partners and the government of Liberia to allot more funding to improve animal and human health delivery in the country.