Patrick Kpanyen, Deputy Director General at the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), says responding to any disease outbreak effectively requires multi-sectoral approach and collaboration in ensuring One Health Platform.
Dr. Kpanyen made the assertions on Friday, November 27, 2020, when the Ministry of Health (MOH) and NPHIL joined partners to celebrated “One Health Day” in Monrovia.
One Health Day is an international campaign co-coordinated by the One Health Commission. The goal of One Health Day is to bring to attention the need for One Health interactions and for the world to ‘see them in action’.
It is a campaign that is designed to engage as many individuals as possible in One Health education and awareness events, and to generate an inspiring array of projects worldwide.
The event, which brought together government officials national and international partners as well as stakeholders under the One Health Platform, was celebrated under the theme: “Strengthening Global Resilience, A 2020 Vision for Sustainable Future.”
Dr. Kpanyen noted that few years ago Liberia joined the One Health Platform taking it from ideas to action.
The One Health Platform is used to reduce the risk of new emerging pandemics through strengthening capacities to prevent, prepare for, detect, and respond to known and emerging public health threats due to the interface of humans, animals and the environment.
Meanwhile, Robert K. Fagans, Deputy Agriculture Minister, said the Ministry in collaboration with other One Health stakeholders through the On Health Platform, has recognized rabies as one of the top five priority zoonotic diseases in Liberia.
Minister Fagans disclosed that in this year alone, a total of 1,274 cases of rabies through animal bites were reported by NPHIL.
However, she said more complete data on the animal side and a better strategy for the prevention and control of the disease are needed to enable her ministry to align with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) to eradicate the dog-transmitted human rabies deaths by 2030.
He said for too long link between animal and human health diseases have been ignored, saying “The loss of over 4000 innocent lives to the deadly Ebola Virus Disease outbreak and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that had crippled the world’s economy and restrict free movement should serve as a lesson for us to animal diseases spillover more seriously.”
Minister Fagans further recalled that prior to Ebola outbreak, livestock was mainstreamed as one of the pillars to building a national economy, but said very little attention was and is still being given to their welfare and public health importance of their products.
“Up to date, it is evident that over 60 per ent of existing human diseases (including HIV, rabies, Lassa fever, Ebola and influenza) emerging and reemerging infectious diseases are from animal origin. Eighty per cent of bioterrorism agents originated from animals,” he added.
He also said, “With the high fatality rate of 99.9 per cent of rabies when signs and symptoms appear, and the fact that it has been confirmed in dogs (36 confirmed cases) across five counties (Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Bong, Lofa and Margibi) in Liberia; the rest of the counties’ rabbie status, has not been determined due to weak surveillance system.
The most effective way to breaking such chain of transmission is to effectively vaccinate dogs (focus on the source of the infection) and carry out public awareness messages.” This, he said, the Ministry would prioritize the vaccination of dogs across the country.