Veterinary Civic Action Programs and Community Health Care Workers Programs in Uganda Prove Successful
Over the past several months, members of the Moroto District Veterinary Office (DVO), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Makerere University, Uganda's Peoples Defence Force - Civil Military Coordination Center (UPDF-CMCC), the U.S. Army's 418th Civil Affairs Battalion Functional Specialty Team (FxSP) and Delta Company, as well as various other non-governmental organizations (NGO's) worked together to conduct Veterinary Civic Action Programs in conjunction with valuable training of veterinary students in the region to address livestock health in the Karamoja area.
Various NGOs in the region created the Community Animal Health Worker (CAHW) program, which is recognized by the government. The CAHW students are locals who are trained by the NGO's in basic animal health and then encouraged to use that knowledge to create a sustainable living by treating animals in their communities and villages.
Classroom instruction consisted of proper assessment, diagnosis and treatment of animals, identifying common causes for disease, prevention and animal husbandry. This was followed with a week of field work, where the students were able to utilize their new skills in a hands-on setting. The villagers were given the opportunity to address concerns and ask questions of the veterinary team.
During the week of field work, the FxSp Team, NGOs, Makerere University students and CAHWs provided routine herd health measures, sick call for respiratory, foot, and skin problems, tick diseases, minor surgical procedures and other miscellaneous treatments.
After completing the field work portion of the class, the students were acknowledged for their hard work and commitment with a formal graduation. Successful CAHW students who completed the refresher course training received certificates of completion, field packs containing veterinary equipment vital to treating livestock, and a supply of starter medication.
The Moroto VETCAPs built upon this program by providing advanced animal health training to a total of 110 CAHW students and then integrated practical field weeks into each class. This not only trained the students but allowed them to go out into the villages and treat their livestock. Between the two phases of classes, approximately 39,000 animals were treated, to include, cattle, goats, sheep, donkeys and dogs.
"The classroom training along with the equipment and supplies provide the CAHWs with the skills and capacity to treat animals in their local villages in a region where veterinarians are not always available. It will provide the CAHW's the necessary tools to provide a sustainable service to the people in the area," stated Captain Nathan Heller, team leader of the U.S. Army's 418th Civil Affairs - Delta Company, team 12.
Captain Heller states, "For a Karamajong their life revolves around their livestock herds. Due to the pastoralist lifestyle and raiding by warriors, the herds are always on the move thus in a constant state of stress. This situation contributes to poor overall animal health and lack of knowledge with dealing with general animal health issues."
Recent findings by USAID's Stability Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Uganda (SPRING) Continuity and Opportunities Assessment reports these programs have lead to the creation of jobs and made a positive impact on the availability and access to animal health services in the region. "This is an example of our great partnership," states David Eckerson, USAID's Uganda Mission Director. SPRING recommends that a USAID implementing partner or project partner with the Ugandan Veterinary Association (UVA) to link with the current CJTF-HOA's VETCAP programs in Karamoja to provide additional business planning and management training so that more private veterinarians can qualify for the UVA loan guarantee program thereby increasing access to private veterinary care for livestock owners. The project was partially funded by USAID, who contributed $14,000 for Phase I and $14,900 for Phase II.
The Assessment states the project empowered ten local private veterinarians to capitalize on the market demand created from the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) Civil Affairs team's Veterinary Civic Action Program (VETCAP) program through dissemination of census and disease surveillance information, public information campaigns as well as through business and vet skills training and small grants support.
As of Mar. 31, 2010 vets recorded more than $18,500 (37,000,000 UGX) in sales of drugs and services treating close to 14,000 animals and birds servicing 1,298 farmers. Because of the stimulated demand for animal health services, the vets were able to hire an additional 40 employees in the form of vet technicians and sales agents.