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AFENET Liberia Marks Successful Conclusion of AFI and SARS-COV-2 Surveillance Project

On August 16, 2023, AFENET–Liberia organized a significant closure, dissemination, and transition meeting for its Acute Febrile Illness (AFI) and SARS-COV-2 surveillance project, spanning Nimba and Montserrado Counties’ selected health facilities. The event convened key stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, WHO-Liberia, US CDC, USAID, the University of Virginia, Riders for Health, the University of North Carolina, EcoHealth Alliance, Naval Medical Research Unit-3, Last Mile Health, Global Fund, and the National Institute of Health.

Over five years (from December 2018 to December 2022), the project enrolled 5531 patients from five healthcare facilities, including Redemption Hospital, Star of the Sea Health Center, John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in Montserrado County, and Ganta United Methodist Hospital and the George W. Harley Hospital in Nimba County. Sophisticated testing, using a customized TaqMan Array card-based quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) method, detected over 20 pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites. The detected pathogens predominantly included Plasmodium species, Measles, Dengue, Rickettsia spp, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Yersinia pestis, Salmonella spp, Salmonella typhi, Leptospira, Leishmania, Hepatitis E, Lassa, Bartonella, and Coxiella burnetii.

Mr. Elijah P. Edu-Quansah, AFI Project Coordinator (AFENET)
Mr. Elijah P. Edu-Quansah, AFI Project Coordinator (AFENET)

Dr. Thelma V. Nelson, the principal investigator, emphasized the necessity to develop and decentralize tier-level AFI diagnosis capacity at sub-national levels and conduct further investigations into AMR surveillance for Bacterial confirmed subjects/clients and treatment follow-ups for cases during her presentation of GoL’s vision for AFI projects in Liberia.

Dr. Thelma V. Nelson, the principal investigator, AFI project
Dr. Thelma V. Nelson, Principal Investigator AFI project

In her closing remarks, Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, expressed her profound gratitude to Liberians for their participation in the project and commended the excellent collaborative effort among partners. Noting an overall positivity rate of 35% in just two out of Liberia’s 15 counties, she stressed the need for ongoing surveillance to uncover the etiologies associated with AFIs, particularly in different geographic areas. She called for further research to bridge gaps in scientific knowledge and advocated for more collaborations and advanced technology integration to expand the scope of AFI projects, thereby improving public health outcomes through enhanced understanding of patterns, risk factors, and their impact on safeguarding public health.

Dr. Wilhemina Jallah, Hon. Minister for Health, Liberia
Dr. Wilhemina Jallah, Hon. Minister for Health, Liberia

This successful AFI surveillance project was spearheaded by AFENET and funded by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC). It was a collaborative effort in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, receiving technical support from the World Health Organization (WHO)-Liberia. AFENET extends its heartfelt appreciation to the US CDC for their invaluable funding support, the MoH and NPHIL for their leadership and ownership, RFH, WHO, and the University of Virginia for their technical expertise and collaborative support.

Dr. Dieula D. Tchoualeu, Senior Advisor for Public Health Science and Programs, US CDC