November 28, 2021

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There's nothing like our health

Guinea combats Ebola outbreak with One Health

3 min read

To better understand the impact of Ebola virus disease (EVD) on food security and the food system in Guinea, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) conducted a study in the vulnerable localities of Gouécké, N’Zérékoré, Guéckédou, Kissidougou and Beyla. The study sought to identify constraints and disruptions in the supply chain, the potential effects of EVD on household food security, and the evolution of household livelihoods.

“We have supported the One Health national platform and initiated an emergency response plan against the recent re-emergence of Ebola in the sub-prefecture of Gouécké in the region of Nzérékoré,” says Dr Racine Ndiaye from FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), noting the collaboration with FAO’s Regional Emergency Office for West Africa (REOWA), the Sub-Regional Office for West Africa (SFW) and the Regional Office for Africa (RAF).

This region has already experienced an Ebola outbreak from 2013 to 2016, causing many deaths, including 2,412 deaths in Guinea and over 11,000 in the sub-region (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia), with tremendous socio-economic consequences.

Containing a resurgent virus

In response to the resurgent virus, and based on lessons learned from previous outbreaks, the Government of Guinea  enacted emergency measures to prevent the spread of the disease, including closing weekly markets and banning all ceremonies and meetings of more than five people in the sub-prefecture of Gouécké. Rapid response from health authorities and adoption of the One Health approach involving public, animal, and environmental health actors significantly contributed to the containment of the outbreak.

Dr Seny Mané represents the One Health national platform supporting all community outreach sessions with vulnerable populations. He is convinced that the fight against Ebola is only possible if “the One Health national platform and its partners strengthen routine surveillance for all viral hemorrhagic fevers, ensure community-based surveillance, and organize regular awareness meetings with communities.” The rural community approach, whereby prevention and control measures pivot around communities, is essential. It allows emergency teams to concentrate efforts on an affected locality to curb the further spread of the virus.

“With FAO support, we have strengthened the multi-sectoral coordination and capacity of the  One Health national platform in the Nzérékoré prefecture and the Gouécké sub-prefecture,” Dr Mané further affirms. “We achieved this through community-based surveillance capacity building and the provision of laboratory and biosafety equipment, reagents and consumables including sprayers and personal protective equipment (PPE).”

Assessing and strengthening the food chain against the virus

FAO has also implemented various activities in the field following community outreach sessions with vulnerable populations, such as joint investigations to search Ebola zoonotic sources at the human-animal-environment interface. Dr Ndiaye explains that “during the joint investigation, 1,244 samples were collected from wild animals (bats and rodents) and domestic animals (pigs and small ruminants).” Other activities implemented were identifying and sensitization on risky behaviours along the bushmeat value chain, and the training of veterinary laboratory technicians and private and public veterinarians on sample collection and packaging and shipping techniques.

FAO also worked with the Liberian and Sierra Leonean authorities to strengthen cross-border collaboration, as the epicentre of the outbreak was close to their borders. This support strengthened surveillance activities in the Bombali and Kailahun districts of Sierra Leone and the Foya, Lofa districts of Liberia as part of a collaborative approach between these countries. “These interventions demonstrated that FAO could provide timely assistance to the country in emergencies,”  says Dr Ndiaye.

FAO, through its Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), continues to support the Government of Guinea in its surveillance efforts by maintaining community-based monitoring, strengthening early warning using a One Health approach and enhancing the detection capacity of veterinary laboratories to respond rapidly to a possible resurgence of the disease.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.

FAO Regional Office for Africa
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