Liberia: FAO, MoA Discuss Isavet Research Reporting

Authorities at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), stakeholders and partners have for the first time participated in a day-long interactive discussion on frontline In-service Applied Veterinary Epidemiology Training (ISAVET) field research reporting workshop to address endemic emerging infectious and transboundary animal diseases.

The training, which was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Disease (ECTAD), highlighted oral presentations of three findings from field research projects conducted by three Liberian ISAVET trainees, who are also staff of the MoA.

The objectives were to discuss and critique the research findings from the trainees, and receive constructive technical feedback related to veterinary field epidemiology skills developed in the frontline ISAVET training; fulfill an essential requirements to successfully complete the exercise training; established a cohort, and network of ISAVET graduates in Africa; as well as strengthened networks among all stakeholders for better prevention, detection, and response of emerging infectious and transboundary animal diseases in Africa.

The research topics covered focused on the assessment of knowledge, attitudes and practices of the population in the case of dog bite and any other epidemic at a slaughterhouse.

Audit of the quality of surveillance data was also addressed in these researches. The frontline ISAVET Program was jointly developed and launched by the FAO, and the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD) of Texas A and M University, in collaboration with the College of Veterinary Medicine Animal Resources and Biosecurity (COVAB), Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, working closely with public health, and other partners.

The program was piloted in Africa after several assessments were conducted under the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) in different countries pointed out significant limitations in veterinary services, and national-level capacity to detect and respond to infectious animal diseases.

The four-month training, the first of its kind in Africa, attracted trainees from the Veterinary Services in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Uganda.

It consisted of four weeks of theoretical training, follower by three months of home-based mentorship field research projects at trainees' duty stations and targeted 180 veterinarians from 14 African countries over the next 12 months.

Dr. Arthur Bob Karnuah, ECTAD National Project Coordinator, who spoke on behalf of the FAO Representative in Liberia, said the organization stands ready at all time to provide the technical support to the Liberian government.

"This ISAVET training is intended to help enhance the capacity of the MoA in addressing endemic, emerging infectious and transboundary animal diseases," Dr. Karnuah said.

Dr. Fatma Soud, Senior Advisor for infectious diseases, USAID-GHSA Program in Liberia, reaffirmed U.S. Government commitment to assist the Government and people of Liberia to build a more vibrant one health sector.

Dr. Soud added that the U.S. and the Liberian governments have a decade of partnership, and have collaborated to improve the health and animal sectors of Liberia.

She applauded the research work of the staff of the Central Veterinary Laboratory and Epidemiology Unit, thus expressing her impression about the level of work they have done in the field. Soud added, "research is difficult, especially when the charged with that responsibility is not equipped with requisite the basic training."

Joseph Anderson, Chief Veterinary Officer at the MoA, who spoke on behalf of Agriculture Minister, Dr. Mogana S. Flomo, thanked the FAO and the USAID for the enormous support provided in strengthening Liberia's animal Health program.

Anderson said Liberia remains extremely grateful to her partners, most especially FAO and USAID for providing the most needed support, refurbishing and equipping the Central Veterinary Laboratory (CVL) with modern diagnostic equipment, diagnostic kits for priority zoonotic diseases, reagents and consumables.

According to him, FAO/ECTAD has reinforced the CVL with the capacity to diagnose priority zoonotic diseases, and other Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs) using various techniques, to include bacteriological methods, Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISAs), Fluorescent Microscopy and Real Time-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR).

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