Our team of VETS UNITED went to The Gambia again to teach students of agricultural sciences in animal protection and care.
The demand for veterinary training in The Gambia is obvious. In the West African republic only nine vets are known: One is working for the department of livestock services, the others are retired or running their own practices in the urban areas of The Gambia. In the whole country, only 45 paravets are working in the field but many of them will retire within the next years. The insufficient animal health and care due to this severe lack of professionals, especially in rural areas, leads to suffering of many animals. To improve the situation for animals we started our veterinary and animal welfare training programme VETS UNITED in The Gambia in cooperation with the Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust (GHDT).
After our first trip to The Gambia in 2015 we went back in January 2016 to train more students. This time the response was overwhelming again: About 50 participants took part, 34 students of the “The Gambia College” and 16 staff members of the GHDT. The VETS UNITED team included our veterinary manager Dr. Wendy Phillips, programme manager Dr. Ruprecht Herbst and the volunteer veterinarian Dr. Birgit Schnabel. As we furthermore were supported by two GHDT volunteer vets also, we were able to split this big group to make sure that all participants could actively take part in the practical training.
Intensive training in theory and practice
During the one week workshop the participants were trained in basics in animal health and welfare like clinical examination, wound management, diagnosing and treatment of diseases as well as other animal health and care topics they will need for their daily work. In addition to the general topics an experienced Gambian vet taught them about the specific situation in The Gambia like common diseases are welfare issues. The students trained their gained skills in practice, as for example bandaging and suturing were done in small groups.
We had a very positive feedback from all students. It was a pleasure to hear later that the dedicated students of the Gambia College wrote a letter to the head of school in order to take over the training into their curriculum.