VETS UNITED in Malawi
Animal welfare in one of the poorest countries worldwide
The new veterinary medicine course at the Lilongwe University for Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) introduced in 2014 brings hope for Malawi’s animals, because the approximately 30 vets currently working in the country with around 50 million livestock and 1.5 million strays have no chance to reach all animals. Since June 2015, the team of VETS UNITED travelled three times to Malawi, in order to further train the new students in practical skills and animal welfare issues in a one-week intensive course, accompanied by voluntary vets from Germany. Now, our training programme has reached another important milestone: along with their studies, the students gain hands on experiences during mobile veterinary clinics twice a week.
Background: Malawi, Africa
Area: 118 480 km²
Population: about 16 million
Official language: English, Chichewa
Poverty ranking list: rank 163 of 175
Animals: about 50 m. livestock,
about 1.5 m. strays
Vets: about 30 nationwide
Many animals are suffering in Malawi
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is said that the majority of the about 16 million inhabitants live on less than 1 US dollar per day. Chicken, pigs, cattle, sheep and goats primarily serve for self-supply or animals can be sold for a small income. But many of these animals are suffering under bad housing conditions and diseases. In addition, there are about 38 000 stray dogs in the capital of Lilongwe alone. Since most of them are neither neutered nor receiving any medical treatment, they reproduce out of control, and sometimes they transmit dangerous diseases like rabies.
The goal of our programme VETS UNITED is to improve local veterinary care in developing and emerging countries by offering further training. Together with the Lilongwe Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (LSPCA) and the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), our local partners, we implement this goal in Malawi, step by step.
Practical experiences in everyday university life - a groundbreaking concept
In addition to the studies of veterinary medicine the university offers the Animal Health and Livestock Production course at their affiliated college. Together with a professionally based education, the graduates of both disciplines particularly need comprehensive practical experience, a component the university could not sufficiently provide so far, for their future career.
Together with the university and our local partner organisation LSPCA, we therefore developed a concept that is unique in Malawi: the students complete regular practical course units in mobile clinics, which are firmly integrated into the curriculum, and thus gain the practical experience they urgently need. Learning objectives and tests of learning success are periodically issued by a local coordinator.
Mobile clinics: for animals and humans
Together with the experienced team of our partner organisation LSPCA, the students of both courses conduct mobile clinics in the villages and communities around Lilongwe two times a week in rotation. All animals are dewormed, vaccinated and treated as well as dogs and cats neutered free of charge during these clinics.
Under the guidance of experienced vets, the students gain confidence for routine examinations, diagnoses and treatment of medical conditions. In addition, the vet students gain practical experience in preparing and performing surgeries.
Within the context of the clinics, the students take over the task to inform the people who bring their animals to the clinics about the needs of their animals. They provide them with advice and recommendations concerning animal care and husbandry as well as inform them about the necessity and benefits of individual animal health measures. Relevant information material for animal welfare (i.e. flyers, posters) is prepared by the students and is used in the mobile clinics.
In addition to these clinics, the vet students get the opportunity to complete an internship at the LSPCA veterinary clinic to gain an insight into the processes and the daily work of an animal clinic, and participate in consultations and assist during surgeries.
Carrying their practical experience and their animal-protection knowledge with them, they will contribute to more animal welfare for their country in the future.