is not a video entry

By: Samuel Adediran, Assistant Director for Global Access, GALVmed

With aggregate estimated population comprising 300m cattle, 1.8b chickens, 35m pigs and 650m sheep and goats, livestock production in Africa is important to the livelihood of millions of people in Africa (FAO Statistics 2013).  Animal disease is one of the major constraints of production. Hence animal health service delivery is very critical because of the relative shortage of (qualified) veterinary surgeons, predominantly extensive production systems, the sheer size and distribution of the rural areas, weak infrastructure, poor logistics, limited access to inputs and markets, low awareness and the consequential lack of oversight or supervision. Under this condition, the role of veterinary para professionals, including in some countries community-based animal health workers becomes paramount. The use of community-based animal health workers(or CAHWs) has been widely experimented in Africa, in situations of peacetime, and in areas of conflict e.g. Somalia, South Sudan, Karamoja region of Uganda, Mali, etc.

Defining vet para-professionals

The Veterinary Para-Professional (VPP), according to the glossary of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Code “is a person who, is authorised by the veterinary statutory body of a country, to carry out certain designated tasks in a territory, delegated to them under the responsibility and direction of a veterinarian.”

Different categories of veterinary service providers therefore come under the classification of VPP. The role for each category of veterinary para-professional should be clearly defined, according to need by the veterinary statutory body depending on the qualifications, training, category or the para-professional. However, the registration, recognition and incorporation of the services of veterinary para-professionals, including CBAHW vary between countries. According to an OIE report, some countries mainly in Africa do include “community-based animal health workers” as being part of the veterinary-paraprofessionals and register them as part of the veterinary workforce while others do not. In addition there are discrepancies between countries in the classification, training curriculum, scope of practice and the level of supervision of VPP’s. In order to bridge this gap and promote linkage between veterinary surgeons and VPPs, the OIE in partnership with the Africa Veterinary Technicians Association (AVTA) and the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) is organising the first Para-professional conference which will be held October 13 – 15, 2015, at the St Georges Hotel, Irene, Pretoria (Gauteng Province), South Africa.

Integrated participation

Nearly 100 participants including representatives of OIE, GALVmed, Au-IBAR, African Veterinary Technicians Association (AVTA), South African Association for Veterinary Para Professionals (SAAVPP) will participate. The conference will bring together a limited number of national associations of VPPs, representatives of well-functioning and OIE compliant Veterinary Statutory Bodies in Africa, Directors of Veterinary Services, and advocates of improved veterinary services together. Other stakeholder institutions including the AU-IBAR, FAO-ECTAD, international livestock organisations, and regional economic commissions in Africathat have demonstrated great interest in the subject of animal health service delivery. In addition, to organisations involved in livestock services such as the Vétérinaires sans Frontières and NGOs involved in livestock support services will be represented. Representatives from outside Africa will share experiences in the evolution of CAHW in Asia.

Set Objectives

The conference will promote linkage between professional veterinarians and veterinary para professionals while providing forum to address various OIE topics that are relevant to VPP including the fact that their operations are implemented under the supervision of veterinarians, whether private or public, as indicated in the OIE standards. The conference programme will also include contributions on the use of CAHWs in remote or conflict areas, where “regular” veterinary services are either not available or have been disrupted, although the main focus will be promoting normal interaction between vets, VPPs and (trained) farmers, i.e. as CAHWs.  In addition, the conference is expected to provide guidelines for the operationalisation of VPP associations while proposing modalities for the recognition, registration and standardisation of the training module and classification of veterinary para-professionals.