Resistance to drugs is one of the biggest concerns in both human and livestock health that calls for stronger measures to address, officials at Rwanda Council of Veterinary Doctors (RCVD) have said.
The problem, some experts say, is partly compounded by veterinarians who register as employees of some pharmacies so that the latter get operational licenses.
Addressing the Council’s third general assembly in Kigali yesterday, Dr François Xavier Rusanganwa, the chairperson of the body, said the issue of ineffective drugs to treat theileriosis, a notorious tick-borne disease affecting cattle (locally called’Uburondwe’) was identified through an inspection exercise carried out in November last year following an outcry by farmers.
“The drug did not treat theileriosis, but rather, the disease was on the rise. We realised that the available drug did not meet standards,” he said, adding that a sample of the drug in question was sent abroad for standards test in competent laboratories which it failed to pass.
Dr Christine Kanyandekwe, the vice-chairperson for the council, who is also the head of Animal Resources Department at Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), said the drug was being sold at a high price at some pharmacies to farmers, despite being substandard as the inspection suggested.
“We will follow up the issue. The inspection is done by various entities, including expert veterinarians and Police. For it to be effective, it has to be systematic. If the drugs are imported and are suspected to be substandard, we shall send them to laboratories that can analyse them to establish their state,” he said.
Cries for timely services
Rusanganwa also noted that some veterinarians were not providing timely services to farmers because they were busy in their own businesses.
“Such behaviour is against our professional principles. As veterinarians, we should not be looking for selfish interests, rather be more driven by and dignify our profession through quality service delivery to livestock farmers,” he said.
“The country needs more productivity in the livestock sector and that can be achieved through quality veterinary services,” he added, pointing out that the value of veterinarians will be determined by livestock farmers’ yields.
Since its legal establishment in 2013, Rusanganwa said, the Council has registered about 1,800 veterinarians and trained more than 100 others through partnership with organisations promoting the livestock sector.
André Mutabaruka, a veterinarian from Rwamagana District, said much as services have been decentalised in local governments, there was need for monitoring and establishing the actual numbers of veterinary service practitioners.
“As we have animal resources officers at sector level, there should be a census of veterinarians and identifying those people who misrepresent the profession or the ghost veterinarians. That is the way the issue can get addressed,’ he said.
Meat production in Rwanda was estimated at 116,000 tonnes in 2016 against the target of 230,000 tonnes in 2017/2018; while milk production was about 710,000 tonnes against some 730,000 in 2017/2018, according to figures from RAB.