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NPHIL establishes programs for higher education at UL

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National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) Director General Tolbert Nyenswah says the institution has succeeded in the establishment of Bachelor and Master public health degrees programs at the University of Liberia (UL).

Addressing a regular press conference at the Ministry of Information on Thursday, 24 January, Mr. Nyenswah disclosed that this would allow Master of Public Health course concentrations which are expected to kick-off beginning 2019/2020 academic year.

They include Laboratory Sciences, Health System Management, Applied Epidemiology and Environmental Health.

“The NPHIL has also initiated the One Health Concept which aims at providing holistic prevention and treatment of human and animal diseases,” he says.

According to Mr. Nyenswah, the NPHIL in collaboration with the Africa Field Epidemiology Network (AFINET) has trained 183 health workers in Intermediate and Frontline programs.

He says NPHIL’s formalization of membership into the AFINET has also been finalized.

Nyenswah revealed that NPHIL has inspected 295 food establishments including restaurants and cook shops, among others in Montserrado and its environs, issuing warning notices to 188 facilities.

He notes that NPHIL has shut down 19 facilities and trained 35 food handlers in food safety.

“Food safety awareness messages are currently being performed by various media outlet in Montserrado. Quality water consumption by the public is being monitored for safety purpose,” he says, adding that 1,281 drinking water sources in 15 counties were sampled, tested and treated in other to avert cholera outbreaks.

Meanwhile, the NPHIL boss asserts that the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) statistics showed that 60% percent of existing and emerging pathogens affecting humans originate in animals, while 75% from wild life.

Mr. Nyenswah explains that considering this statistic, they can’t deal with human health, animal health, and ecosystem health in isolation. Instead, he says they will be dealt with together.

In a related development, Mr. Nyenswah clarifies that Liberia is Ebola freed, adding that the country is ten times safer in preventing and detecting diseases than its pre-Ebola era.

His comment comes in the wake of the discovery of the virus in a bat in Mahn District, Saniquellie, Nimba County in 2016.

The NPHIL boss recalls that in 2016, a test was performed on 5,000 bats and showed that one bat was carrying the Zaire Ebola virus.

“Don’t panic as this does not in [any] way imply that the virus is in Liberia. Avoid bats and do not kill them because of their importance to the ecosystem,” Nyenswah says.

According to him, bats that are found in the neighborhood with people do not pose any threat. But he says some of those bats in the forest and caves could be carrying a virus.

Mr. Nyenswah informs the public that NPHIL has huge capacity to test various diseases including the Ebola virus disease, lassa fever, meningitis, yellow fever, cholera, measles, rubella, and acute watery diarrhea, among others.

“Our surveillance system is effective in all 73 electoral districts of the 15 counties. We have kept Liberia safe for the past three years since 2016, evidenced by the fact that there has been no known case of Ebola in Liberia,” he asserts.

According to him NPHIL has fully responded to 48 outbreaks in 2018 including the major yellow fever outbreak in Barclayville, Grand Kru County which saw 2,000 people from nine months and above immunized with potent yellow fever vaccines.

By Roosevelt G. Jabah –Edited by Winston W. Parley

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