200 Community Animal, Human Health Volunteers Trained to Combat COVID-19

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FAO Country Representative Mariatou Njie

… with funding from USAID-GHSA, FAO

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says with funding from its partner, the United States Agency International Development- Global Health Security Agenda (USAID- GHSA), it has supported the training of 200 community surveillance officers in Montserrado County of which 50 are Community Animal Health workers and the rest Community Health Volunteers to combat the coronavirus in the country.

According to a release, the training lasted for two days from April 28-29, 2020, with the participants receiving training focused on COVID-19, use of reporting tools at community level for contact tracing, use of various preventive measures including practical hand washing, calculation of bleaching solutions for handwashing among others, which are key to mitigating the spread of the disease within community.

The release said the training was spearheaded by the Director of Veterinary Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in close collaboration with Community Health Services Division of the Ministry of Health (MoH).

It further stated that the 200 community health workers are to be deployed for active case finding/contact tracing in Montserrado County, while 1500 will be trained by the Last Mile Health and World Health Organization.

“This training is a practical show of the ‘One Health’ (OH) approach and collaboration among partners and stakeholders in mitigating the impact of zoonosis, the release added.

“With approximately 1.5 million people and a population growth rate of 3.41% in 2019, Monrovia metropolitan area constitutes the highest population in Liberia. Such population does exert tremendous pressure for health care delivery which is strained and largely donor dependent. On another note, Liberia’s health care system is further confronted by limited government support despite commitment to upscale health care support. More importantly, the health care workforce cannot deliver quality health services without substantial effort to upgrade their skills in the wake of COVID-19,” the release said.

It mentioned that henceforth, FAO’s initiative to support the training of health surveillance volunteers on COVID-19 both from human and animal health sector through OH platform is a timely intervention in the right direction contributing to the country’s effort of building a health care system capable of mitigating the impact of COVID-19 pandemics.

In the wake of COVID-19 pandemics, the Government of Liberia has taken  series of measures including a declaration of state of emergency, social distancing, sanitary measures, testing and contact tracing of all suspected cases and quarantine of positive and suspected individuals. As of May 12th, 2020, the total number of confirmed cases are 211, 20 death and 85 recovered. Meanwhile, the majority of the confirmed positive cases are from Montserrado, which hosts the capital – Monrovia – inhabited by approximately 30% (1.5 million) of the entire population.

In an effort to respond to this pandemic, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) and MOH in collaboration with other national and international partners developed a COVID-19 contingency plan and formed task forces to lead the various strategic pillars employing OH approach. To this effect, the OH platform played a significant role in bringing together various actors including the MoA. Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) and Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) trained under the leadership and responsibility of MoH and MoA respectively, are front line actors in implementing Community Event Based Surveillance System in their local communities.

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