EDITORâ€”I wonder what it takes for someone to become an animal health practitioner/veterinarian! What I know is that after completion of Aâ€™level, one has to pursue a course ( a minimum of two years) in a recognised higher institution of learning which offers training in this discipline.
Furthermore, after completion of the course, this person must be registered by the Uganda Veterinariansâ€™ Association or the Uganda Para-veterinariansâ€™ Association.
But to my surprise, this is not the case with the people who practise animal health services in the rural areas of Jinja. Someone just wakes up in the morning and starts promoting himself as an animal health practitioner irrespective of his academic and professional background.
This always comes after this person has failed in other activities which he has been engaged in. Animal health is taken as a last resort!
These people utilise both the farmersâ€™ ignorance and the escalating poverty and lure the latter to offer their animals for treatment at â€˜cheaperâ€™ charges.
Some of the so-called doctors can neither read nor write, but you wonder how they manage to prescribe and treat with drugs whose instructions are written in English! For instance, how do they manage to interpret the following instructions:
dosage and administration rates
Certainly, they do not follow these instructions and rely on trial and error!
This alone may seem light but it has far reaching implications like drug resistance in both humans and animals, loss of animals due to poor diagnosis and poor handling of the disease and loss of trust in veterinarians.
Lastly, total failure of the animal industry may result. What perturbs me most is that some of these people have gone up to the level of practising animal surgery!
Within this month alone, I have it on good authority that five cows have been operated upon by quack vets and this has happened within one sub-county only.
You may ask how these people access the drugs they use. It is easier for someone in the village to get veterinary drugs than getting basic consumables.
For someone to get sugar or salt, one has to travel to the trading centres. But with veterinary drugs, some people have turned into hawkers.
They traverse the villages selling these drugs to whoever needs them, as they also do the treatment!
Now, what is the way forward? Are the relevant authorities already aware of this problem?
Do they know how much it has affected the people in the area? Whatever the case, this vice deserves immediate attention.
James Nanyumba Kikooma
Jinja is teeming with quack vets!