The government of Sierra Leone has revamped the Teko Central Veterinary Laboratory with the aim of building national capacity to detect, diagnose and control livestock diseases.
The laboratory will enable veterinary scientists to test for all livestock diseases and treat zoonotic infections like rabies and anthrax.
Addressing delegates at the opening ceremony, Sierra Leonean President Ernest Bai Koroma said the facility would improve animal health and support the attainment of food and nutrition security.
The rehabilitation project was jointly sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), with the Sierra Leonean Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security as the implementing partner.
“The government is cognizant of the fact that livestock is an essential component of our nutrition across the country. We are also aware that livestock production levels can be increased, and national nutrition status improved, by addressing diseases that affect the animals,” Koroma said.
Koroma said the development of a healthy livestock sector will open avenues for the pursuit of new livelihoods and self-employment prospects for the people.
USAID Health Project Management Specialist for Sierra Leone and Guinea Cynthia McCauley said the renovated facility will allow veterinary scientists to mitigate diseases that can cause illness in humans and greater economic impacts through livestock losses.
FAO Representative to Sierra Leone Nyabenyi Tipo said despite having a small livestock population, Sierra Leone’s move to invest in livestock disease diagnostic capacity was commendable as it would guarantee animal and human health security.
The FAO has provided the technical and funding support requirements for the training of 30 field surveillance officers in the conduct of ground investigations for disease outbreaks as well as the collection and handling of sample tissues.
Established in 1949, the Teko Central Veterinary Laboratory used to provide animal health and disease diagnostic services to livestock farmers in northern Sierra Leone. It provides specialised research services in bacteriology, parasitology, haematology, histopathology and serology. It also produced vaccines for the treatment of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP).
The renovations undertaken include structural changes to the building, a new perimeter fence, reconnection of water and electricity supplies, and the construction of a new facility for the disposal of hazardous waste.