FAO in Liberia

FAO and MoA enhanced Animal Health Service in Liberia

CAHWs, Surveillance, Quarantine and Livestock officers and County Agricultural Coordinators at the two-day refresher training ©FAO/Liberia

Monrovia- In order to improve the animal health services, all the animal health actors including the Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) play a vital role in the prevention, detection and control of zoonotic and non-zoonotic diseases. 

To complement the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure effective and quality animal health service delivery in Liberia, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) - Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) brought together key animal health actors from 15 counties (CAHWs, Surveillance, Quarantine and Livestock officers and County Agricultural Coordinators). The objective was to review the performance of the Animal Disease Surveillance and Response (ADSR) system and at the same time provide refresher training with a focus on performance tracking system.  

The meeting also provided the opportunity to enhance the service delivery by the primary animal health actors. During the exercise, FAO equipped the first batch of trained CAHWs with basic veterinary diagnostic kits to enable them provide basic animal health services to their communities.

The technical and materials support provided by FAO-ECTAD was carried out through the financial support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) Programme. 

The training  which lasted for two days (January 23-24, 2020) focused on creating awareness for the prevention and control of priority zoonotic diseases such as (anthrax, brucellosis, rabies etc.) and other economically important diseases such as Peste de Petit Ruminants (PPR), the prevalence of which constitute a major disease burden among small ruminant population in agro-pastoral communities.

In May 2019, the FAO-ECTAD in collaboration with the University of Liberia and the Ministry of Agriculture trained and certified twenty-eight CAHWs on basic animal health and production and introduced them to the Animal Disease Surveillance and Reporting (ADSR) system developed and launched for the first time in Liberia in 2019.

FAO to work hand-in-hand with partners for a vibrant animal health sector

In her opening remarks during a two-day refresher training for the CAHWs organized by FAO, Madam Mariatou Njie, FAO Representative in Liberia narrated  that through the USAID-GHSA support, FAO established the Epidemiology Unit and has renovated and equipped the Central Veterinary Laboratory with advanced equipment, supplied with various diagnostic kits to make the lab functional and operational.

The FAO Representative assured that FAO would continue to work hand-in-hand with its partners including the USAID to develop animal health infrastructure and human capacity for effective control and management of zoonotic and non-zoonotic diseases in Liberia.

Madam Njie noted: “I am pleased to note that the Epidemiology Unit at the Ministry of Agriculture reported in 2019, 25 animal health events accompanied by 179 different samples as well as reports from Points of Entry and slaughterhouses through the animal disease surveillance and response system which was zero in the previous year. This is a great achievement that deserve an appreciation to the MoA animal health actors,” she mentioned.

The Chief Veterinary Officer of Liberia, Mr. Joseph Anderson admonished the CAHWs to report any strange disease observed in their communities. “We are depending on you for accurate, timely and first-hand information. You are our ears and eyes in the community.”

Mr. Anderson said training the CAHWs is very crucial in the cycle of animal health disease reporting. He pointed out that despite the huge contribution from the development partners, there is still capacity gap within the sector. He urged the CAHWs to work closely with the MoA surveillance officer to report all cases of animal disease within their respective localities.

Also speaking at the program, Dr. Fatma Soud, Senior Advisor, USAID-GHSA Programme in Liberia called on the CAHWs to remain vigilant at all-time within their communities, “We depend on you to report on all diseases in areas.” She added that the US government through the GHSA is supporting a number of counties on prevention of infectious diseases in your area. She requested that CAHWs to put their ears and eyes on the ground and report any zoonotic diseases including Lassa Fever, a common and prevalent disease in Liberia.

In a brief remark, Ms. Leelia R. Andrew, Animal Health Specialist with One Health Secretariat and REDISSE Project, also added her voice to many voices calling on the CAHWs to remain on the alerts to report any animal disease incidence in the communities. She noted the importance of capacity enhancement, the key in building a robust animal health sector.