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Opinion: Proactive approach towards improved veterinary services

2021-07-15  Staff Reporter

Opinion: Proactive approach towards improved veterinary services
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The system definitely inclines towards a reactive rather than proactive approach. 

It seems the ministry of agriculture’s directorate of veterinary services (DVS), the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) and the farmers’ association could not see the longer distances animal keepers need to travel in order to access veterinary services.

Until convinced otherwise, it is worrisome to me to silently live in a community with clear needs of people, and also individuals who can alleviate those needs. 

Perhaps I should rather be simple, our pioneers in the veterinary profession have done a lot of improvement that is visible. 

Therefore, it is for the current and future professionals to see to it that the issues facing the profession is addressed as a matter of urgency.

Ask around as a reader of this article ‘how easy is it to access veterinary services when you need them?’ Yet, we have graduates roaming the streets with hands that are cut off by laws that protect the interests of the unknown. 

If you look closely at requirements put in place, they are more concentrated on companion animals and capital projects. 

It is a fact, however, that this segment of the veterinary services was in the hands of the private sector. 

The other issue that needs urgent consideration is that South Africans copied and pasted laws that were designed to address South African veterinary problems. 

However, these laws do not at all reflect the best needs of our country. The Veterinary Council of Namibia (VCN), with its duties and functions to advise the ministry, is very unlikely to address these needs adequately. 

It is vital that the line ministry sees to it that these laws are looked into and improved to reflect the Namibian veterinary services’ needs. 

It is clear that the professionals must make a choice either to honour these laws or stand up for the health rights of their patients and service delivery to their clients. 

These laws seem not to be in line with the Constitution of our republic. 

One must not forget that we have various communities with different standards, but very similar basic animal health needs. 

Our lawmakers are made to believe that these laws are serving the purpose, not knowing that it is placing a huge burden on government to employ all these people, or to work for fellow private professionals. 

Mark my words: Act 1 of 2013 is protecting private monopoly. Just look at when this Act was passed with relation to our local veterinary school. 

I need help to know who exactly compiled this Act, because it is betraying the sole purpose of opening up a heavily resisted (during its foundation) Unam School of Veterinary Medicine. 

The graduates are expected to have a physical building to operate in, or sit home at the expense of needed veterinary services, or wait for employment by government or work for the private sector. 

Interesting is the fact that when you look at requirements, they are more inclined to make it harder to access that industry, hence keeping it in the hands of the current private operators. 

Why are there no detailed requirements for production animals, because it is well- known that the nation cannot be fooled about that? These laws even make it impossible at present to have a diversity of academia. 

How do you expect an academic professor to be willing to be examined by a bachelor’s holder during a council exam to enable them to work freely? It is a pure joke and an insult to the government’s efforts to develop this profession. 

At least the South African graduates have a free allowance that enables them to practice without having to sit for council examination. 

The line ministry must be advised well that all veterinarians who are trained internationally must be treated the same way with no exception, just like in the medical professions. 

Currently, the South African-trained veterinary graduates are granted automatic registration with the VCN. 

We need to be practically independent, get weaned off, and take charge of our own affairs as a country. 

However, the veterinarians trained elsewhere are expected to sit for council examinations. Everybody shall be treated the same, the Act is favouring South Africans and isn’t fair for others too. 

In fact, the veterinary schools which have been producing graduates who went through the council examination prove the quality of their education, and should be accorded accreditation status. 

It just makes sense. Having outlined the matters that I see as important, it can only be fair that I share some of the possible subjective solutions. 

The agriculture ministry and government must accept the fact that they are and will never be able to employ all veterinarians, especially seeing that Unam will be producing graduates every year. 

However, it is in the power of government, and specifically the line ministry, to make sure that the laws are made to reflect the needs for service delivery and improved access to it, and put an end to this monopoly. 

Although these laws are important, they are meant to block entry into the private sector, or otherwise one must explain to me why there are no private veterinary clinics in locations like Havana, Hakahana and Otjomuise in Windhoek, DRC in Swakopmund or Ombili in Otjiwarongo. Must they be left out? Our people live there. 

Does it mean that those residing there need no veterinary services? Don’t their animals get sick? Now, someone tells a new graduate you must build a clinic for you to operate in these areas. 

We have to open our eyes, Namibians, and see things as they are. 

Individuals want those professions to be in their hands, but time will determine the fate. 

Perhaps one should make me understand why there are no private clinics in northern Namibia. 

The state must make it mandatory that upon graduation, graduates choose or be placed (if compensated) at a registered state veterinary facility to enable them to render services to the community. 

Another alternative is for government and the private sector to offer consultation rooms to enable people who own animals to make use of these graduates’ professional services, and not have them sit at home while our very own communities need their services. 

There is a business niche with all state veterinary offices. 

Having a pharmacy with relevant stock does not only resolve the issue of farmers having to travel longer distances to acquire medication, but will also ease the work of the veterinarians who are stationed at veterinary offices without medication. The state needs to serve as an entry point. 

This shall be seen as a proactive process to relieve the employment burden that the state will have to face. 

It can not make sense for a fresh graduate to start a consulting room or clinic with no finances, or they should advise government on possible alternatives. 

2021-07-15  Staff Reporter

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