FAO, USAID Collaborate to Fortify Veterinary Lab in Makeni

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

In a significant development for Sierra Leone’s veterinary capabilities, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have joined forces to fortify the Central Veterinary Laboratory (CVL) in Makeni.

On March 13, 2024, a pivotal visit to the CVL in Makeni marked a milestone in the collaboration between FAO and USAID. Through the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), funded by USAID and implemented by FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), efforts have been underway since October 2018 to bolster Sierra Leone’s ability to prevent, detect, and control both emerging and endemic diseases.

Over the past five years, GHSA has focused on strengthening various aspects including human resources, disease surveillance, laboratory infrastructure, bio-safety, bio-security and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) capacities, all under a comprehensive One Health approach.

Recognizing the pivotal role of veterinary laboratories in disease control, FAO ECTAD collaborated closely with Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS) to develop strategies for managing diseases like anthrax, brucellosis, peste des petits ruminants (PPR), and rabies.

As part of this collaboration, the CVL in Makeni, located in the Bombali district, has undergone extensive renovation and upgrading, supported by USAID funding. With these enhancements, the CVL now meets Bio-safety Level 2 (BSL-2) standards, enabling it to conduct testing with improved safety and accuracy.

To celebrate this achievement, the United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Bryan David Hunt, and the USAID team visited the CVL in Makeni from March 12 to 14, 2024. FAO ECTAD organized a symbolic handover ceremony during the visit, emphasizing the commitment to advancing animal health and disease surveillance in Sierra Leone.

During the ceremony, Ambassador Hunt highlighted the critical importance of robust animal disease control programs, particularly in light of zoonotic disease threats like Ebola, Zika, and COVID-19. He reaffirmed the United States Government’s dedication to supporting Sierra Leone’s efforts to enhance health security and readiness for infectious disease outbreaks.

Deputy Minister II at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Sahr Hemore, expressed gratitude for the partnership between USAID and FAO, emphasizing the CVL’s significance as a regional hub for animal health. He urged all stakeholders to protect the facility as a national asset, stressing the interconnectedness between animal and human health.

The inauguration of the Sierra Leone Central Veterinary Laboratory in Makeni on December 14, 2017, marked a significant step towards improving food security, nutrition, and employment opportunities in the country. With continued support from FAO and USAID, the CVL is poised to effectively address disease outbreaks and safeguard public health in Sierra Leone and beyond.

The collaboration between FAO ECTAD and USAID underscores the importance of international cooperation in strengthening veterinary capabilities and disease monitoring. The upgraded CVL in Makeni stands as a testament to the commitment to advancing global health security objectives and protecting public health in Sierra Leone.


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