The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), through its Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) program in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) on Tuesday, November 27, inaugurated a refurbished and equipped Central Veterinary Laboratory (CVL) at the University of Liberia’s Fendell Campus, outside Monrovia.
The occasion brought together officials of government, a representative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), other relevant stakeholders as well as the representative from FAO Regional Office.
With funding from USAID, through the FAO/ECTAD program, the facility is equipped with modern diagnostic equipment, diagnostic kits for priority zoonotic diseases, reagents and consumables. It has the capacity to diagnose zoonotic diseases, and other Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs) using bacteriological techniques, Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISAs), Fluorescent Microscopy and Real Time-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR).
The lab has been able to recently diagnose positive cases of canine rabies in dogs for the first time ever in Liberia, which is by far a great achievement for the country, because it now has an in-house capacity to diagnose rabies, according to FAO.
Agriculture Minister, Dr. Mogana Flomo, informed participants that his ministry is working with the authorities at the Ministry of Health, the National Institute of Public Health in Liberia, and other partners.
“I am pleased that Liberia is making progress relating to the one health platform that aims at responding to the threat of transboundary animal health cases, which we spent a lot of money to treat people for at health facilities, because we do not have the equipment to diagnose the cases. The inauguration of this facility is an important milestone,” Minister Flomo said.
He stressed the need to reduce the case load of diseases at various health centers, because it can be done through the ‘one health platform approach.’
Therefore, Minister Flomo wants more Liberians trained to combat animal-related diseases, and thanked the government and people of the United States for helping to improve the country’s animal health sector.
FAO Country Representative, Mariatou Njie, said the project is supporting the Global Health Security Agenda to address Zoonotic Diseases and Animal Health in Africa.
“Through this project, FAO is supporting the Liberian government to address critical capacity gaps identified by the World Organization for Animal Health tool for the Performance of Veterinary Services, and the WHO Joint External Evaluation in Liberia,” she said.
The GHSA is aimed at addressing global vulnerability to infectious disease threats of public health concerns, strengthen systems, and ensure that a trained workforce has the skills and tools to prevent, detect and respond rapidly and effectively to infectious disease threats.
According to Madam Njie, Liberia is among 31 African countries that have benefited from the FAO/ECTAD’s work through the emergency pandemic threat and the GHSA programs that aim at preventing high impact zoonosis to enhance animal health.
Meanwhile, FAO has donated two vehicles to the CVL and the MoA epidemiology unit to facilitate their works.
USAID Deputy Mission Director Sara Water, said the United States Government remains committed to improving global health security, including Liberia, while committing funding toward projects around the world for the improvement of the GHSA initiatives.
She said the continuous effort is meant to support the one health platform, which is required to effectively meet future outbreak of epidemic diseases.
Madam Water called for increased collaboration among countries to ensure regulations that can prevent animal diseases.