Vice President Boakai Stresses Need for Veterinary Science at UL

Sunday, 11th July 2010
Monrovia, Liberia - Liberiaís Vice President Joseph N. Boakai has stressed the need for the state-run university and other universities in the country to begin offering courses in veterinary medicine.

He said Liberia is at a critical juncture in its livestock development program, having lost all its livestock and the few veterinarians it had during the conflict. He said the country had several veterinarians, including those assigned at the borders to ensure that animals entering the country from the Mano River Union countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast were properly screened, but lamented that there is currently no veterinarian that the country can boast of.

Vice President Boakai made the recommendation during a meeting with the visiting U.S based Veterinarians Without Borders on Saturday, July 10 in Zorzor, Lofa County.

The seven member delegation of veterinarians is in the country to train ministry of Agriculture staff and community members to protect cattle and other animals from animal diseases.

Vice President Boakai also called on the Ministry of Agriculture and international partners to put in place a program to ensure full protection of livestock from diseases. He stressed the need for the training of veterinarians and the establishment of a veterinary laboratory under the program.

He said it was time to begin to put a system in place to ensure proper care for domestic animals, now that the Samaritan Purse is reviving the post-war countryís livestock program, and when the Ahmaddiya Muslim Mission has pledged to help engage in livestock breeding.

Vice President Boakai emphasized that if cross-border trade in domestic animals in the Mano River Union countries is to be sustainable and profitable, there was need to train veterinarians who will be deployed at the borders to regulate cross-border trade in cattle.

Briefing Vice President Boakai, the Chief Executive Officer of Veterinarians without Borders, Mr. Thomas Graham said his team was in the post-war country to help redevelop veterinary infrastructure, so as to reduce animal diseases and ensure that animals are not wiped out.

According to Mr. Graham, the focus of the pilot program is to train 20 Ministry of Agriculture staff and 15 community workers and to establish a community health service and distribute vaccines to help control animal disease and rabies.

Mr. Graham said the objective of the long-term initiative is to ensure regional control of rabies and other animal diseases.

Speaking at the meeting, the Superintendent of Lofa County, Mr. Galakpai Kortimai hoped the initiative would cover all the seven districts of Lofa County to ensure full protection of livestock in the area.

Mr. Kortimai disclosed that there was a time when cattle and other domestic animals started dying indiscriminately and that Ministry of Agriculture official called in could not diagnose the problem.

He also stressed the need to deploy veterinarians at the various border posts to ensure that unhealthy animals are not brought into the country to infect cattle in Liberia.

He said what is happening now is that cattle are brought into Liberia from Guinea without screening them to ascertain whether they are infected or not.

Mr. Kortimai added that at the moment, animals are left to roam towns and villages, which he noted, experts have advised, is not healthy, and that trained veterinarians will advise on how to keep these animals under control and out of contact with the human population.

Mr. Kortimai also recommended the full involvement of county officials in selecting individuals who will be trained to ensure that only people who are prepared to live and work in the various communities benefit from the training.