It struck me on a recent visit to a farm some hours from the nearest city in one African country how difficult it is for owners of farms in these areas to access even the simplest of veterinary medicines let alone the services of a veterinarian.
The farm owner, who works in the city travelled with us for a couple of hours over deeply rutted muddy roads thanks to the recent heavy rains, handed over a small plastic packet containing a few basis remedies to the stockman on the farm. He could only get those remedies back in the city.
Livestock, particularly cattle are an integral and valuable part of life throughout Africa. This homestead was no different, chickens with their young were busy scuttling about the yard and two roosters patrolled their flock. A dog and tiny kitten were very much in evidence and behind the homestead a large kraal stood ready to receive the cattle on their return from the day’s grazing.
Cattle in Africa represent wealth and in addition they are valuable sources of protein, traction power as well as fertilizers. Mostly the Zebu type, as they are generally able to cope with food of lower nutritional value and in many cases are tolerant to a number of the diseases such as Nagana (Animal African Trypanosomosis) and Babesiosus.
I did, however, wonder how the stockmen accessed treatments or even advice for these beautiful and valuable animals.
A nearby store, more of a lean to, had the very basics for human health and first aid as well as some limp vegetables, some fly-spotted fruit and the inevitable cool drinks in a fridge that was laboring away to keep things cool on a day when the temperatures topped 420C.
What concerns me about this is what happens in rural Africa when these valuable animals are truly ill? How do their owners access effective medicines and indeed veterinary help? This is the situation many farmers in rural Africa are faced with on a daily basis. There are not enough veterinary professionals to offer the much needed services to farmers. This often leaves farmers to take desperate measures such as self-diagnosis and off the counter drugs, which can be very detrimental to the lives of the animals. At GALVmed, we are working hard on a number of fronts to provide universal access to livestock medicines and I believe, in addition to this, it would be beneficial to address the scarcity or lack thereof, of veterinary services in these areas. This would greatly compliment the work that many organisations such as GALVmed are trying to do to improve the health of livestock for poor farmers.
This year’s World Veterinary Day is focusing on Vector-borne diseases with Zoonotic potential. Vector-borne zoonotic diseases are becoming a major public health concern in fact scientists estimate that more than 6 out of every 10 infectious diseases in humans are spread from animals. At GALVmed, we work on a number of zoonotic diseases not only to protect livestock from these diseases but humans as well. Tweet us your thoughts and share with us what World Veterinary Day means to you. @GALVmed #WorldVetDay