... To fight infectious diseases
United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 presented a major laboratory policy documents to authorities at the Ministry of Health (MoH), aimed at enhancing the fight against outbreak of infectious diseases.
According to authorities at the ministry, Liberia is the first country to have received these documents. It will also help to address the numerous challenges the health the country has.
On November 20, 2019, USAID presented a set of laboratory documents, and a policy playbook to be used to detect, prevent, and respond to an infectious disease outbreak.
USAID Acting Mission Director, Rebekah Eubanks, who presented the documents to the ministry, informed the gathering that the Global Health Security Strategy (GGSS) outlined the United States Government's approach to strengthening global health security.
Madam Eubanks: "It seeks to accelerate the capabilities to prevent detect and respond to infectious disease outbreaks."
She said infectious diseases have the potential to endanger lives and disrupt economies, travels, trade and food supply; it does not respect national boundaries, and can spread rapidly by jeopardizing the health, security and property of every country.
"It is therefore in the interest of all nations to strengthen global health security and manage the risk of infectious disease outbreaks," said Madam Eubanks.
According to her, the increase in the number of naturally occurring outbreaks over the past 15 years, including influenza, Ebola, Zika and Rift Valley fever, and the risk posed by an accidental or deliberate release of pathogens highlights the critical need for robust prevention, detection and responds mechanism.
She recalled that recent outbreaks are sufficient proof that infectious diseases can spread easily across species that have animal origins.
Madam Eubanks said that achieving global health security, therefore, requires a sustained, coordinated, multi-sector approach that incorporates, an understanding of the linkages between human, animal and environment health.
"The GHSS, which was recently released by the White House, moves us closer to attaining the goal of lessening the frequency and duration of potential, future infectious disease outbreak," she said.
USAID and the US Department of Health and Human Services are principally responsible for strengthening the capacities of countries to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease threats.
The agency is currently supporting efforts in 17 countries in Africa and Asia, including Liberia, to strengthen their health networks so that they can effectively detect and monitor infectious disease outbreaks. It funds this work through the Infectious Disease Detection and Surveillance project (IDDS), some of which are in Liberia.
According to Madam Eubanks, the primary focus of the IDDS is to strengthen laboratory systems to ensure timely recognition, surveillance, and coordination efforts counter infectious disease threats to public health.
The IDDS is a 5-year support of US$15 million, through which initiative, "USAID is going to help Liberia to strengthen the diagnostic network that provides quality-assured results, and surveillance data to inform policy practice, improve clinical outcomes and ultimately contribute to global health security."
Health Minister Wilhelmina Jallah, who received the document on behalf of the government, added, "We need to have documents that will guide us in terms of making diagnostics of infectious diseases that will be of public health concern."
Minister Jallah lauded USAID for the documents, which she said can now be used to make proper procedures that would enable them to handle any infectious diseases."
"We have also received a play-book that will tell us whatever we need to know and how to handle things if we want to make diagnosis," Jallah said.
Minster Jallah: "With these documents, the ministry will no longer sit here, and wait for health experts from outside the country to come before we can address some of these problems in our health sector."