EDITORâ€”I applaud Professor David Kabasaâ€™s announcement that Makerere Universityâ€™s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is planning to establish a veterinary graduatesâ€™ skills centre (The New Vision, January 15). In many countries, veterinarians are highly regarded members of the community a
Besides the primary role as animal health professionals, veterinarians are also trained and play other roles as public health professionals, teachers, extension workers, researchers, administrators and their involvement in national development as agricultural policy makers and political leaders.
Good news continues to be heard about developments in the animal industry in Uganda. The recent announcement that the faculty of veterinary Medicine will be establishing an animal disease centre is a move in the right direction.
Most of these developments, especially in the faculty have been spearheaded by the current Uganda leadership with the primary focus of uplifting overall animal productivity.
President Yoweri Museveni has been at the forefront of capacity development in the faculty and associated industries. The President, being an astute farmer himself preaches what he practises and he has been a long- term client of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and his efforts should be commended.
Makerere University is a highly acclaimed higher institution of learning in Uganda and internationally due to the robust adherence to its founding ideals that are very much rooted to the model of Royal colleges or older universities of England. From the British colonial era, many faculties and schools have continued to train students based on the curricula of British universities to varying extents. One faculty that has rigidly maintained the â€˜Royal curriculumâ€™ is the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.
A large component of the training however remains largely irrelevant to the needs of Ugandan veterinary clients as the course is highly â€˜Western-tailoredâ€™. It is traditionally known among current students and alumni of Makerere that the veterinary undergraduate programme is one of the most demanding courses at the university.
Admission into the veterinary undergraduate programme does not guarantee graduation of students as there is a high rate of dropout compared to other degree programmes at the university. The training of veterinary undergraduate students is relatively expensive due to the unique nature of course and requirements.
Intermittent expatriate lecturer and funding shortage to the faculty, has resulted in undergraduate training to be heavily theory-based, leading to limited local relevant practical exposure and industrial training which leads to inadequately prepared graduates for the Ugandan field expectations. Many fresh veterinary doctors suffer from â€˜bookworm fatigueâ€™. This in part explains why many veterinarians are reluctant to pursue formal studies again shortly after graduation.
The planned establishment of auxiliary courses more relevant to the community needs of Uganda is welcome and leadership of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine should be commended for this important move.
There is also need for the faculty administration to collaborate with other universities, especially in the Commonwealth and work towards getting the veterinary degree from Makerere University accredited and recognised internationally, especially by the Royal Veterinary College in London.
The veterinary facultyâ€™s leadership in new world class courses such as the wildlife course, resource management, emphasis on infectious tropical diseases and clinical practice among others, presents major leverage points for negotiation into having the Ugandan veterinary degree to be recognised within the British Commonwealth.
Dr Saul Chemonges
Vet graduate centre is a great idea