The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Disease (ECTAD) in partnership with the University of Liberia College of Agriculture and Forestry, on May 13, 2019, certified 28 Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs).
The CAHWs were trained to work closely with authorities of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) to enhance the Liberia's capacity for responding to infectious and potential zoonosis diseases and provide basic animal health service to their communities.
Zoonosis refers to diseases that can be passed from animals to humans. They are sometimes called zoonotic diseases that animals can carry as harmful germs, such as bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses. These are then shared with humans and cause illness.
MoA selected the CAHWs from nine of the 15 counties, and trained for three-week in both theoretical and practical of the basic principles of animal health and production. The exercise was held at the University of Liberia Fendell Campus.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), supported the training to address zoonotic diseases and animal health in Africa.
FAO Representative in Liberia, Madam Mariatou Njie, informed the CAHWs that the FAO-ECTAD/ GHSA program on animal health is supporting the government of Liberia to develop the needed animal health infrastructure, and human capacity for effective control and management of zoonotic diseases.
"As part of the short-term support to elevate the animal health, and build human resource capacity of the country, and the immensely needed service by the farmers, the GHSA project plans to train the CAHWs as service providers to the community," Madam Njie said.
She described the CAHWs as the frontline animal health service providers to the communities, who play pivotal roles in the animal disease surveillance and response system.
CAHWs work mostly on voluntary basis to bridge the gap between animal farmers and surveillance officers.
Madam Njie further said that the training will increase the livelihoods resilience to threats and crises by improving communities and stakeholders' capacity to implement effective prevention and mitigating measures to reduce the impact of threats and crises.
The Senior Advisor to the USAID/GHSA program in Liberia, Dr. Fatma Soud, said USAID supports the government in various sectors, including governance, economic, and education. The GHSA also supports the human and animal health sectors under the One Health Platform of Liberia to protect, prevent and response to zoonotic diseases.
Dr. Soud reminded the CAHWs that "after this training, you will serve as our ambassadors in the field while carrying out the necessary surveillance and response efforts."
The Chief Veterinary Officer, Joseph Anderson, who spoke on behalf of Agriculture Minister Dr. Mogana S. Flomo, lauded the continued efforts of FAO in supporting the animal health delivery system of the ministry.
University of Liberia's Vice President for Administration, Madam Weade's Kobbah Boley, expressed gratitude to have received the CAHWs. She said that the university will consider the training as part of its curriculum programs, specifically in the College of Agriculture and Forestry.
The CAHWs were trained on the recognition of priority zoonotic and non-zoonotic diseases monitored by Animal Diseases Surveillance and Response; reporting suspected diseases to District Livestock Officers or Central Epi-Unit as appropriate; diseases outbreak investigation and response; vaccination and sample collection, and understand disease prevention and simple treatment.