At least 1,000 community veterinary doctors in Eastern Province, who were recently trained, were yesterday given start-up kits to begin serving their communities.
The animal caregivers are farmers selected by communities and trained by Rwanda Agricultural Board (Rab) in partnership with districts, under the supervision of the national veterinary services.
According to Dr Jean Jacque Mbonigaba Muhinda, from Rab, the start-up kits would help the community vets detect diseases and provide basic animal health services in remote areas where herders are unlikely to access veterinary services, including animal vaccinations.
“With the training, and the equipment received from Rab, they can treat the most common diseases such as parasite infestations, animal infections or wounds,” he said.
“Every animal health worker received a bicycle, tools for treating animal dental complications and instruments for minor surgery on animals.”
Mbonigaba said government was committed to promoting farming, adding that farmers were to be equipped further to handle challenges.
“In the future, they will also advise their communities on how animal diseases can be prevented, as well as play an important role in public health. Their services will not only significantly improve animal health, but also protect human health,” Mbonigaba said.
Need to train more vets
Godelive Mukantabana, one of the veterinary officers in Rwamagana District, said the skills and equipment given would be beneficial to farmers.
“The training made a difference. We have skills on detection and treatment of livestock diseases common in communities. During the training, we have been looking at how the whole system of community animal health workers functions. We won’t lose animals as we used to, anymore,” she said.
Mukantabana further called on the authorities to train more health workers to serve all farmers in the district.
“We still have a long way to go in ensuring that each village is represented because those who were trained were not necessarily drawn crom all communities,” Mukantabana said.
The Governor of the Province Odette Uwamariya, who presided over the function, urged farmers to fully embrace modern farming.
“You must use the skills and equipment effectively. Go for modern farming and avoid sticking to traditional. Make sure you prepare ground to access enough pasture and water,” she said.
The Eastern Province has the largest cattle population in the country.