Gov’t, FAO Adopt Plans to Prevent & Control Rabies in Liberia

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Harbel, Margibi County – Animal and Human health experts are brainstorming at the Farmington Hotel in Margibi County to develop a national strategic action plan for rabies prevention and control in Liberia.

The five-day roundtable discussion which kickoffs Monday, is in the framework of the One Health Approach and will last from 28 May-1st June 2018.

This initiative is organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through its Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) Program with funding from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the Government of Liberia and other stakeholders.

The weeklong exercise brings together approximately 60 participants from the public health sector including the media.   

The forum is also gear at developing a multi-sectoral national strategic action plan for stakeholders to support rabies control capacities.

At the same time, it will strengthen the results-based planning (collection, data management,); strengthen resource mobilization and financial sustainability of the national action plan to overcome transmitted rabies; advocate for the national ownership of the national integrated rabies elimination action plan and improve monitoring, evaluation, surveillance and research on rabies prevention as well as control and eradication.

According to a communication from FAO, when developed, the national strategic action plan will support the Global Health Security Agenda against four action packages including zoonotic disease, biosecurity and biosafety, laboratory system, and workforce and capacity development.

Rabies is transmitted between animals and humans (a zoonotic disease), usually via a bite wound inflicted by an infected animal, although licks on open sores and scratches may also pose a risk to developing rabies.

According to FAO report on rabies, while many mammals are capable of transmitting rabies, more than 99% of    the 59,000 people that die from the disease each year as a result of exposure to a ‘rabid dog.’

The UN food body furthered, that in addition to the thousands of human deaths, millions of dogs die each year due to rabies.

Speaking at the opening of the discussion, FAO Representative in Liberia Ms. Mariatou Njie said: “This workshop is timely and relevant for Liberia to join the global eradication efforts through proper prevention and control strategy”.

She also noted that Rabies is one of the top five priority zoonotic diseases in Liberia that affect both animals and human and spread to people mainly through the bite of rabies-infected dogs.

Madam Njie maintained that rabies remains under-reported but neglected zoonosis with cases of fatality have rated almost 100% in humans while animals account for 59,000 deaths every year globally.

With the stated figures given, she noted that rabies is a 100% preventable disease.

At the same time, Assistant Agriculture Minister for Extension and Research Alvin Wesseh informed participants that a total of 1,228 cases of human exposure of rabies from animal bites were reported by the National Public Health Institute in Liberia.

Assistant Minister Wesseh who officially opened the workshop on behalf of Agriculture Minister Mogana S. Flomo, added that the one week sitting by stakeholders is an opportunity to put in place an Integrated National Rabies Elimination Plan by using the “One Health” Approach that will be in the heart of our public health agenda of both human and animal surveillance system.

For her part, Madam Monica Dea Representing the United State Agency for International Development stated that eliminating the disease depends on the implementation of specific local strategies, the participation of the population in general and technical cooperation among partners.

In remarks, both the World Health Organization and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured the Government of Liberia of their commitment in supporting the “One Health” Approach geared towards preventing rabies in Liberia.

At the end of the discussion, a comprehensive national action plan for rabies prevention and control is expected to be developed to carry out plan activities for implementing a sustainable long-term program.

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