Dogs and people as far as the eye can see. And right in the thick of it, a group of dedicated veterinary students of the Lilongwe University for Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR). As participants of the VETS UNITED programme, they regularly take part in mobile clinics to apply and improve their skills in preparation for their future jobs. Stationed on the outskirts of the capital Lilongwe, our team of veterinarians and students was able to supply vaccines and treatment for more than 650 dogs.
Animal welfare work on the other side of the world
On dusty red soil, far from the nearest city and without running water or electricity, our partners of the local animal welfare organisation Lilongwe Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (LSPCA) set up their tents several times a week. They work tirelessly to deworm, vaccinate and treat ill or injured domestic and farm animals. In addition, they spay and neuter domestic animals in order to curb their uncontrolled reproduction, which is one of the many persistent animal welfare problems in the country.
The local coordinator, Robyn McCann, is responsible for overseeing the project's high standards. As an employee of the LSPCA and a lecturer at LUANAR, she leads both theoretical and practical teaching units. The experienced veterinarian likes to challenge her students both in and outside of the classroom: "It's important to actively involve students from the very beginning. Their first contact with a sick or injured animal in an examination room is usually enough to overcome any concerns they may have about treating real animals. It's a great opportunity for them to gain valuable hands-on experience. At first, they observe what happens a few times, and then they get active themselves," McCann said.
Urgent Need for Veterinarians
Malawi urgently needs young and well-trained veterinarians. The country has about 1.5 million dogs and an estimated number of 50 million farm animals. However, currently there are only about 30 practicing veterinarians. It's our goal to bridge this massive gap by steadily supporting LUANAR in their professional and practice-oriented animal welfare education of Bachelor students of Veterinary Medicine. The programme has been successful since 2015.
Ruprecht Herbst, programme manager of VETS UNITED, is convinced: "With the programme, we have succeeded in giving animal welfare an important place in the training of veterinarians in Malawi. Our local partners, LSPCA and LUANAR, do great work. Together we will sustainably improve the future of animals in the country!"
A Team of Journalists from Deutsche Welle
During our mission in Malawi, the team of Deutsche Welle worked hard to produce a thorough, multi-faceted report about our project in the country. You can watch the full video here:
Deutsche Welle (DW) is the international broadcaster of Germany. With nearly worldwide reception, it seeks to promote understanding between cultures and peoples through its contributions by TV, radio and internet, and provides global access to the German language.