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Strengthening animal health in Ethiopian pastoral areas

CAHWs have become an integral part of animal health service delivery in Ethiopia (© FAO)
CAHWs have become an integral part of animal health service delivery in Ethiopia
© FAO

Poor infrastructure, the mobile lifestyle of pastoralists over vast areas, high delivery costs, and a reluctance among qualified vets to live in remote areas has hampered veterinary service provision for Ethiopia's pastoralists. Traditional public veterinary clinics, which are static, have also proven to be unsuitable for mobile pastoral systems. To overcome these challenges, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been working to strengthen and increase the sustainability of Ethiopia's community-based animal health delivery system.

Over the past 20 years, Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) have become an integral part of animal health service delivery in remote pastoral areas of Ethiopia. However, the sustainability of this system requires the standardisation of selection and training of CAHWs and the establishment of private veterinary drug supply systems - work FAO has been supporting.

Delivering a service

Since 2006, FAO Ethiopia, in collaboration with local government and NGOs*, has been establishing and then linking private veterinary pharmacies to CAHWs. "The success and sustainability of CAHWs entirely depends on a reliable drug supply system," explains FAO project officer, Gedlu Mekonnen. "Trained CAHWs need access to veterinary supplies," adds Gijs van 't Klooster, FAO livestock team. "Government supply systems regularly run out of stock or have veterinary drugs that are not in demand. Private pharmacies do not replace the regulatory and monitoring role of public veterinary services, but complement the system by supporting CAHWs to provide basic animal health services."

30 private veterinary pharmacies have been established and linked to 600 CAHWs (© FAO)
30 private veterinary pharmacies have been established and linked to 600 CAHWs
© FAO

So far, 30 private veterinary pharmacies have been established and linked to 600 CAHWs. Each pharmacy received about US$1,700 of veterinary drugs as a one-off loan, repaid through training and monitoring CAHWs, collection of disease outbreak reports from CAHWs and selling drugs to CAHWs and local communities. Every CAHW was then given drugs and equipment worth US$170 so that they could use the money generated from selling the drugs to replenish their stocks from the pharmacies - enabling them to serve their community and ensure that pharmacies continue to provide a reliable service.

Linkages between CAHWs and private pharmacies have been successful in pastoral areas, particularly in the Somali region where pharmacies have become prosperous and reliable sources of veterinary drugs. An independent assessment by the Ethiopian Veterinary Association (EVA) in 2010 revealed that 20 of the private veterinary pharmacies had sustained their businesses and were actively linked to 300 CAHWs. Using this experience, FAO is encouraging the government to promote this model across the country in pastoral systems and further define the public veterinary sector's regulatory role of disease surveillance, disease control policy development and implementation - instead of clinical service delivery.

Expanding activities

CAHWs will continue to be frontline primary animal health providers in remote pastoral areas (© FAO/Giulio Napolitano)
CAHWs will continue to be frontline primary animal health providers in remote pastoral areas
© FAO/Giulio Napolitano

"CAHWs will continue to be frontline primary animal health providers for some time to come in remote pastoral areas," Mekonnen explains, requiring them to be linked with reliable private drug suppliers. "But these should be well regulated by the government," he adds. To increase government regulation and standardise CAHW training, FAO has helped the government develop national minimum standards and guidelines for the design and establishment of a sustainable community-based animal health service. In addition, a facilitator's guide for the training of CAHWs and a training of trainers manual have also been produced to standardise training and build the skills and knowledge of the trainers.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), CAHW systems offer clear opportunities for developing countries to improve disease surveillance in marginalised areas. As a result, FAO has also been working to link CAHWs with public organisations at livestock markets. "District veterinary offices and private pharmacies are fixed-point providers and the CAHWs are the mobile service providers. Often the best way to link the two is at local livestock markets," van 't Klooster states. "Ideally veterinary offices and pharmacies would be located close to markets to enable information on animal diseases and outbreaks to be exchanged."

A common approach

One of the major challenges of implementing a community based animal health service delivery in Ethiopia, says van 't Klooster, has been dumping of free drugs as 'emergency' animal health interventions. "Provision of drugs for free undermines both the CAHWs and the private pharmacies whose sustainability depends on the profit they make on the veterinary drugs," he argues. To tackle this problem, FAO as co-chair of the DRM (Disaster Risk Management) agricultural taskforce stimulates all partners to enforce the Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS), developed to improve emergency responses for pastoralists.

FAO is working to support a national strategy that will address the different roles of public and private practitioners (© FAO/Giulio Napolitano)
FAO is working to support a national strategy that will address the different roles of public and private practitioners
© FAO/Giulio Napolitano

The guidelines clearly state that the provision of veterinary services in humanitarian crises should pay immediate attention to the payment for services, with the use of voucher schemes for the most vulnerable livestock keepers to enable them to procure the required veterinary services from the CAHWs. "Simultaneous implementation of emergency animal health service interventions and the establishment of a sustainable private drug supply system for community-based animal health service delivery systems is good practice for successfully linking emergency assistance to rehabilitation and development," Mekonnen states.

Another major challenge includes the lack of legislation on veterinary privatisation that defines the role of public and private practitioners. In the Somali and Oromia regions, FAO supported the development of a livestock disease control strategy document to enable the utilisation of scarce resources by prioritising approaches that involved private practitioners and CAHWs. Using this as a springboard, FAO is working to support the national livestock disease control strategy that will address the different roles of public and private practitioners in Ethiopia. "A clear division of public and private sector roles in the delivery of veterinary services is needed," van 't Klooster concludes.

* Save the Children (USA), Save the Children (UK), Haraghei Catholic Secretariat, International Rescue Committee, Action Contra la Faim, Islamic Relief

With contributions from: Gedlu Mekonnen and Gijs van 't Klooster

Date published: November 2011

 

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This is the mosting eigouracnng word in ages. As a breeder M... (posted by: Low)

Actually the CAHWs are the leading animal health service pro... (posted by: kisa juma ngeiywa)

 

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