The Key players working together vividly in making sure that this project is a success are, Raymonda Johnson Head of Crop Protection Unit at MAF and Plant Pathologist Njala Agricultural Research Center /SLARI, Dr. Alusaine Edward Samura.
MAF’s Head of Crop Protection Unit, Raymonda Johnson said in her statement that Sierra Leone is lucky to be one of the few countries for both West and Central Africa that has been selected to be part of the second phase.
Johnson furthered that in doing this for Sierra Leone as a nation, it is the collaborative effort between the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI), Ministry of Health and Sanitation and Various Universities of Sierra Leone.
The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Joseph Jonathan Ndanema, who graced the final day of the workshop said the creation of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) ensures rapid responds and inputs preparation at the heart of our strategy in the management of plant health emergencies. The Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in West Africa, he said demonstrated the weakness of the health systems in the face of large-sale. “Thus, from experience in the past we are strengtahening prevention, detection, and coordination in our crisis management relating to the agricultural sector,” he said.
There has been past regional initiatives to combat Cassava Mosaic Disease includes efforts by the West Africa Agricultural Productivity program supported by the World Bank and the Plant Wise Project. Currently, the Economic Community of West Africa State (ECOWAS) has established the Sanitation and Phytosanitary Sanitary and National Plant Protection Organisation committee in addressing pests and diseases of crops including cassava viruses.
At national level, the Crop Protection Unit in collaboration with the National Research Institute has established routine surveillance activities for the detection of viruses.
The EOC must coordinate detection, diagnosis and response activities through strong leadership and a shared vision for all operations. Its implementation and reporting will take a concerted and multi-sectoral approach.
The four principles that will guided the development of the three-year strategic action plan of the EOC are: Cooperation and partnership: The establishment of the EOC is geared towards strengthening of the entire Sierra Leone plant health risk management system. A culture of collaboration and sharing must be developed and is essential in addressing the present health risks of our nation. The EOC will define and coordinate the mechanisms of preparation and response of all actors. Lessons will be drawn from the preparedness and response actions and will, in partnership with sister structures and organizations, to improve the effectiveness of the system; Capacity development and technical support: The EOC will identify capacity needs and build the human and infrastructure capacity to strengthen entire plant health management system. The EOC will derive technical support from development partners; Awareness creation and management: The EOC will be proactive in stakeholders and community sensitization on the emerging viral threats, control options and promote the development of policies and laws that enhance the management of diseases; and Communications and experience sharing: The aim will be to share the lessons and good practices of the health emergency community and to strengthen the entire international system. Strengthen regional collaboration and ensure effective communication, knowledge sharing and coordination among stakeholders of the EOC.