AFENET Liberia holds final results dissemination and transition meeting for acute febrile illness project
AFENET – Liberia on 16 August 2023 held a closure and final dissemination and transition meeting for its Acute Febrile Illness (AFI) surveillance project across selected health facilities in Nimba and Montserrado counties.
The transition meeting brought together stakeholders from the Ministry of Health, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, the World Health Organisation (WHO) – Liberia, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC), USAID, the University of Virginia, Riders for Health, the University of North Carolina, EcoHealth Alliance and Naval Medical Research Unit-3, Last Mile Health, Global Fund and the National Institute of Health.
Over the five-year project period (December 2018 through to December 2022), a total of 5531 patients were enrolled from five health facilities, including Redemption Hospital, Star of the Sea Health Center, and John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in Montserrado County as well as Ganta United Methodist Hospital and the George W. Harley Hospital from Nimba County.
Specimens were tested using a customised TaqMan Array card based quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) testing for over 20 pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Pathogens detected were predominately plasmodium species (p. falciparum, p. malariae and p. ovale), Measles, Dengue, Rickettsia spp, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Yersinia pestis, Salmonella spp, Salmonella typhi, Leptospira, Leishmania, Hepatitis E, Lassa, Bartonella and Coxiella burnetii.
The leading principal investigator, Dr. Thelma V. Nelson, NPHIL, in her presentation of GoL vision for AFI projects in Liberia, highlighted the need to develop and decentralise a tier-level AFI diagnosis capacity at sub-national levels and further investigations into AMR surveillance for bacterial confirmed subjects/clients and treatment follow-ups for cases.
In her closing remarks, the Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, expressed extreme gratitude to Liberians for partaking in the project and the excellent collaborative effort among the partners. With an overall positivity rate of 35% in only two out of the 15 counties in Liberia, she highlighted the need for continued surveillance for etiologies associated with AFI’s, especially in other geographic areas, building upon this background data with further research to adjust the gaps in scientific knowledge.
Dr Jallah emphasized the need for more collaborations and integration of advanced technologies to extend the scope of the AFI projects to improve public health outcomes by understanding patterns, risk factors and impact on safeguarding public health.
AFENET led the implementation of the AFI surveillance project from December 2018 through to December 2023 with funding from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The five-year project is a collaborative effort with the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia and technical support from the World Health Organization (WHO)-Liberia. Our sincerest appreciation to the US CDC for the funding support to the AFI surveillance project, the MoH and NPHIL for the leadership and ownership, RFH, WHO and the University of Virginia for the technical and collaborative support.