Barefoot vets - a stop-gap measure
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CTA. 2003. Barefoot vets - a stop-gap measure. Rural Radio Resource Pack 03/03. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57334
Dr Sultan of FARM-Africa Tanzania discusses a project to train community animal health workers, describing the training system, the benefits the barefoot vets are offering to communities and their relationship with government veterinary services.
Cue: In dealing with the challenge of poor veterinary facilities and low staff numbers, training local people as community animal health workers, or barefoot vets, has plenty of advantages. The training may only take a few weeks, and because the barefoot vets are already living in rural areas, it is much easier for them to serve dispersed farming communities. But training schemes of this kind are not always popular with agricultural ministries, particularly if the barefoot vets do not fall under their regulation. There have also been doubts about the professionalism of some trainees, who may prescribe drugs or treatments that are not needed in order to increase their earnings. To learn more about the benefits and problems associated with community animal health workers, Lazarus Laiser visited FARM-Africa, an organisation which has been training barefoot vets in Tanzania. He spoke to Dr Sultan, who began by describing the training process. IN: ?Actually it takes four weeks ? OUT: ?government will give them support? DUR?N 3?46? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Dr Sultan of FARM-Africa Tanzania urging the government to support the training of community animal health workers. Transcript Sultan Actually it takes four weeks and the training entails practical and theory. And after completion of the training we also give them a starter kit and this starter kit is free. And the starter kit is comprising of castrator, knapsack sprayer, hoof trimmer, syringes, needles and some drugs. This is a package, and we said that if we give this starter kit then they can regenerate income because the community based animal health workers are working, charging the services that they are offering to the community. So they will get the money, and with the money that they get they will replenish the drugs and also maybe buy other equipment if they are broken. Laiser Are the farmers now getting good services from their barefoot vet? Sultan Yes the farmers actually now are getting good service bearing in mind that these community based animal health workers are very close to the household. So it means to say that they no longer bother now to go to look for a village extension officer who maybe is residing about 10 ? 15 kilometres away from where he is. So at least they have assisted them tremendously because they are very close now to the households, closer to the animals. Laiser If you compare the number of animals that were dying before these animal health officers, what can you say about this? Sultan They have assisted tremendously to reduce the death, that is mortality and also to reduce the illness. Because if you compare soon after the government had withdrawn from provision of animal health care because there was a gap of about 5-10 years that there was no animal health providers in some villages. So it means that many villagers they just turned to become health providers and they caused a lot of illness or they caused a lot of death to animals because they were not trained actually to offer such services. Laiser What can you say to the government of Tanzania regarding these animal health officers in the villages? Sultan Tanzania is third in Africa for having a large number of livestock, we have 17 million. And this 17 million head of cattle are found in the villages. So those who are suffering actually are the villagers. And these community based animal health workers are not dangerous, they are not going to hamper the system. The only thing is, they are assisting. They are actually a stop-gap measure. And we believe that maybe in 10-15 years to come when the government is in a good position to train these village extension officers and diploma holders, these people will eventually be replaced by those who are coming. But for the time being there is no way, we have at least to assist them. And since they are working hand in hand with the village government officers, I don?t think there is any problem regarding the misuse of drugs or going against the ethics, because they actually don?t do things which the village extension officer can do. For example they don?t do operation, they don?t attend major cases, they only do these primary health cases. And the one issue which maybe I would also like to air out is, the village government is empowered to withdraw all the kits and drugs from the trained community based animal health workers if the performance is dropping down, maybe because of laziness and what have you. So I hope and I believe that the government will give them support. End of track.