Learning to diagnose disease
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CTA. 2003. Learning to diagnose disease. Rural Radio Resource Pack 03/03. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10568/57230
Dr Donald Sibanda, a private vet working in northern Zimbabwe, describes the training he gives to farmers so that they can recognise common illness types, and discusses the difficulties facing disease diagnosis systems in the country
Cue: Most experienced livestock farmers are able to judge when their animals are sick, but knowing exactly which disease an animal is suffering from is more difficult. For example, is it a tick-borne disease or an infectious virus? If a farmer does not know the answer, the animal is unlikely to get the correct treatment, and it may die. Diagnosing what disease an animal has is usually the job of trained veterinary officers. In some cases they will need to send samples from the animal to laboratories for testing. However, these disease diagnosis services are under huge pressure in much of Africa, and are often unable to help farmers living in remote areas. Donald Sibanda is a private vet working in Matabeleland North province in Zimbabwe. He is very concerned about the problem of disease diagnosis facing farming communities, and believes one answer is to train farmers in recognising common disease symptoms. For the last few years he has been giving outreach training to farmers in the province. In this report he speaks to Busani Bafana about the challenges he has faced doing this outreach work, and the problems associated with disease diagnosis in Zimbabwe. IN: ?One of the problems ? OUT: ?it?s actually helping us.? DUR?N 3?32? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Dr Donald Sibanda describing the training he has given to farmers in recognising livestock disease symptoms. Transcript Sibanda One of the problems is also literacy because if you get maybe vets who cannot communicate with the local areas there is a language gap. But we have to talk in our local languages; if we get vets who talk in local languages and then have educational tours in the whole district from one area to another. I?ve done outreaches myself. We spend nearly the whole day doing lessons about common diseases. And after that I?ve seen a good improvement from that policy. Bafana In your operation you serve more than 300 communal farmers. What would you say can be done to identify diseases and ensure that they are treated quickly before they become a national disaster? Sibanda What I have done to the communal farmers which I?ve visited myself, I?ve had to teach people the common symptoms which animals show. I have taught those guys the common symptoms and then say, as soon as you see these you just call a veterinary extension officer. If they see that maybe the disease, they can?t handle it, that?s why they call me, that?s why I have to visit them and so on. And if you had a call, they didn?t understand before then you say that I have again to teach them what are the symptoms or what they should do soon after that. And it has really helped. Bafana What systems exist in Zimbabwe for disease diagnosis and control? Do you think these are effective? Sibanda The systems that exist in Zimbabwe at the moment for disease diagnosis they are actually not effective because the veterinary department now is relying mostly on farmers. But farmers sometimes they don?t know, they think of other reasons, some even think of witchcraft and so on which is actually wrong. We should have veterinary people in the field where those if they diagnose the disease then we have labs in Harare, for Foot and Mouth actually in South Africa. The problem that we have now is vehicles because some samples we have to rush them, we have to reach within 24 hours in a refrigerated container. And if you are deep in Matabeleland North you don?t have vehicles just to travel, to reach Harare takes about 3 days which makes that disease diagnosis actually not effective. Bafana What practical advice, doctor, would you offer to farmers who have no access to lab facilities on recognising and where possible on controlling disease outbreaks? Sibanda Now we have just, there are some diseases which we have grouped on certain symptoms. We should just check that the animal is anaemic, you need to check the gums and then you see they are pale. Then there we just say if you see these diseases, these are tick-borne diseases, if you see this disease then maybe it is a viral disease. With that then we would treat; the treatment for tick-borne diseases as you know there are 2 or 3 drugs which we use. So it?s better just to treat an animal with all the drugs so that we would fight many many diseases and conditions and so on. And if it is a viral then we avoid movement, letting that animal being stressed and so on, leave that animal at home. So with the teaching that is going on it?s actually helping us. End of track.
- CTA Rural Radio