FAO Review Reveals Evidence of Previously Unconfirmed Endemic Diseases

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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) had conducted a review that concludes that FAO support had strengthened the capacity of the Government of Sierra Leone, particularly its central veterinary laboratory (CVL), which is now equipped to test for transboundary animal diseases and priority zoonoses such as peste des petits ruminants, brucellosis, avian influenza, rabies and African swine fever, among others.

The review included the Integrated Animal Disease Surveillance and Reporting System (IADSR) and was conducted on 27 and 28 July 2020.

Speaking about the positive conclusions of this review, the Assistant Director-General of Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture, Sorie Kamara, said that “FAO and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have greatly improved the capacity of the livestock and veterinary sector, which has made it possible to detect previously unknown diseases in animals. In addition to this robust system, animal diseases will be easily controlled at source, limiting their socio-economic and public health impact”.

Other results of the review also showed that FAO’s efforts to actively involve the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, as well as other national stakeholders, have contributed to the sustainability of the measures and strengthened the activities of One Health in Sierra Leone, that is,the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally, to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment.

In 2018, the FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) established an IADSR within the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Global Health Security Programme (GHSA). Under this support, FAO also created an epidemiology unit that was renovated and equipped; in addition, FAO renovated and equipped the Central Veterinary Laboratory in Makeni. Motorbikes were provided to all district livestock officers and CVL officials to improve mobility, respond to outbreaks and collect samples for diagnosis.

The review also showed that FAO support also enhanced the technical capacity of livestock and veterinary staff through various in-service trainings on data analysis, laboratory sample management, field biosecurity and biosecurity, outbreak investigation, geographic information system (GIS), mobile event application (MEA-i) and risk analysis, among others.

Such achievements reinforce the positive outcome of FAO ECTAD’s intervention in the country, which was welcomed by H.E. Dr. Julius Maada Bio during the state opening of the third session of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone. He stated that the renovation of the central veterinary laboratory is “promoting animal production that will improve nutrition and provide higher income to livestock farmers”.

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