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Opinion - The monopolisation of the veterinary profession

2020-07-15  Staff Reporter

Opinion - The monopolisation of the veterinary profession
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While the government of the Republic of Namibia and the relevant authorities worked so hard to have the school of veterinary medicine in Namibia, the legislations surrounding the profession seem to be protecting the monopoly within the profession. 
Act 1 of 2013 is a legislation, which was passed into being a law in the year 2013 at the critical time when government and the relevant authorities were in an advanced stage of opening up a veterinary school in Namibia. It is, however, saddening to realise that despite the effort to increase the access to veterinary services, the passed law prevents the graduates from practising the profession while not having a registered facility (which I will refer to as a capital hindrance to access the market). 

To contextualise that, it means that the graduates have to either be employed by private, state or have to build a clinic before they can practice such a profession.
 Unless the government is trying to prevent registered veterinarians from providing services to their clients or the implication of that clause in the Act is not understood or put into context or the State will absorb the graduates. 

How will the situation be after five years of locally veterinary graduates? This surely defeated the purpose of improving veterinary service delivery. Our patients (Namibian in context) do not live under roofed facilities except the companion animals (dogs, cat and horses) therefore, we have to embrace the norm of taking the services to where our patients are through community engagements. 
It should also be noted that a veterinarian does not need a physical facility to offer services to the patients that is the reason veterinarians go in the field because they are clinical people, they need to see and understand the cases. 

How many people are able to take their animals to the veterinary facility for treatment or for whatever the need might be? Look at the current registered facility how many have facilities that can be used for all species of animals that require veterinary services.  At least some state veterinary service offices have interspecies facility and so Neudamm, however, they do offer multispecies veterinary services. It is therefore not clear to many including myself why a physical facility is made and a requirement for a registered veterinarian to practice. 
Unless we are protecting the current market and preventing access to the said market, some of these clauses in the Act are hindering factors to service delivery. We are clearly not pulling together, as some parts want to protect the market as if it is an infant and others need the market to be opened so that service delivery is achieved. 

The past six months were the worst traumatic to the graduates, in the sense that there was a lot of footrot in small stock earlier this year due to good rainfall, verminosis in nearly all animals (pigs, goats, sheep and dogs) plus infectious coryza in poultry, but with our knowledge, one can’t assist these patients as according to the law, you are breaking it as you do not have a registered facility. 
It is, therefore, necessary that the lawmakers, the relevant ministry and other relevant authority have a look at some of the implications the law has on the profession and act in the interest of promoting access to the veterinary services countrywide. 
It is a fact that the veterinarians, especially in the NCA of Namibia, are covering very larger areas and their service delivery to the communities is further made difficult by improper infrastructures (roads) and inaccessibility of most areas.

2020-07-15  Staff Reporter

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