Liberia Makes Strides towards One Health Goals

The partners, including the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), and AFENET-Liberia, lauded the country for adapting and advancing the global concept, which seeks to work in a concerted way to address shared health threats that human-animal-environment interface.

One Health is a collaborative, multi-sectoral, and trans-disciplinary approach that works at the local, regional, national, and global levels. Its goal is to achieve a health system that recognizes the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment.

A Joint Risk Assessment and the One Health Mapping and policy analysis study for Liberia funded under Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) project is also underway.

“All of these initiatives are intended to ensure that Liberia achieves its One Health goal,” FAO team leader at the celebration over the weekend, Dr. Ibrahim Ahmed, said. 

FAO recently supported the review of the governance manual, the Joint Risk Assessment, and the mapping and policy analysis study. Dr. Ahmed spoke on behalf of his boss, FAO Country Representative, Mariatou N'jie. 

“We want to seek a wealthier world, so there is a need to prioritize the wellbeing of not only mankind, but animals as well as the environment,” he noted.

Within the one health context of detecting, controlling, and prevention of Zoonotic diseases, FAO recently finalized the construction and equipping of the Animal Quarantine Center and a laboratory in Ganta that were finally handed over to the government. The weekend event was also a combined celebration of World Rabies Day (WRD), One Health Day (OHD), and World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW).

OHD provides an opportunity for experts and the community to join together in One Health education and awareness. Communication, coordination, and collaboration among partners working in animal, human, and environmental health as well as other relevant areas are an essential part of the One Health Platform.

“Working together allows us to have the biggest impact on improving health for people, animals, and our shared environment,” an official of a national group that is spearheading the initiative, stated at the celebration. 

This global health concept endeavors to attain optimal health outcomes, recognizing the interaction between people, animals, plants, and their common environment. According to GIZ’s Director of Health, Daniel Lohmann, there is a need to support the idea, but also to educate the public and other stakeholders about One Health, as well as share experiences, resources, and challenges.

“GIZ is working in three counties in the Southeast and this is the idea that we are promoting there,” he said.  “We are not taking good care of the environment and that is why we get the backlashes at times with the outbreak of diseases and the impacts of climate change. Everything is interconnected and so we have to care for and protect everything.”

The Government of Liberia has since begun working on the preparation of a One Health governance manual that would ensure that the concept, approved globally in 2016 on the heels of the Ebola virus disease outbreak, is domesticated as a national policy. 

The manual is currently undergoing revision to ensure that it is adopted soon. The program came out of the lessons learned from the Ebola crisis that ravaged Liberia and her neighbors, Sierra Leone and Guinea.