Joint Risk Assessment Workshop on Zoonotic Diseases Commences Today in Paynesville

Paynesville, April 9, 2024 – Starting today, the Golden Key Hotel in King Gray, Paynesville, is hosting a pivotal five-day workshop dedicated to Joint Risk Assessment (JRA) on three critical public health diseases: Lassa fever, Rabies, and Anthrax. This event, running from April 9 to April 13, 2024, with daily sessions beginning at 9:00 AM, aims to enhance Liberia’s preparedness and response strategies against these significant zoonotic diseases through a structured ten-step JRA process.

The workshop is a response to the growing concerns over the impact of zoonotic diseases at the human-animal-environment interface, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive understanding and action plan to mitigate these risks. Zoonotic diseases, which are infectious diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans, have increasingly become a focal point for public health officials worldwide due to their potential to cause widespread outbreaks and significant economic losses.

Lassa fever, Rabies, and Anthrax have been specifically chosen for this workshop due to their severe implications on public health and their prevalence in various regions around the globe. The workshop seeks to leverage the expertise of a broad spectrum of professionals, including epidemiologists, veterinarians, environmental specialists, policymakers, and NGO representatives, to facilitate a multidisciplinary approach to risk assessment and management.

The primary goals of the workshop are to refine policy communication, augment risk mitigation efforts, and reinforce planning and preparedness measures. By employing a structured ten-step JRA process, officials at the workshop are expected to develop robust strategies that will significantly enhance the national response to zoonotic disease threats.

Brainstorming session of facilitators, JRA 2024, Liberia

Speaking at the opening session, representatives from various partner institutions, including the Africa One Health University (AFROHUN), International Rescue Committee (IRC), United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), GIZ, and Breakthrough Action, reaffirmed their commitment to supporting Liberia in its public health endeavors. At the same time, representatives from the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), and the Ministry of Health (MOH) have committed to the One Health approach to mitigating public health threats.

According to Phebe Thomas, JRA Team Lead, the results from this workshop are expected to be instrumental in shaping future policies and preventive strategies against these diseases. She stressed, “Through collaboration and the sharing of expertise, we aim to create a blueprint for addressing the challenges posed by zoonotic diseases more effectively.”

The workshop represents a critical step forward in the national effort to combat zoonotic diseases, highlighting the importance of proactive measures and interdisciplinary cooperation in public health initiatives. As the workshop progresses over the next five days, it promises to generate actionable insights and strategies that will be vital in the ongoing battle against diseases that threaten both human and animal populations.

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