Veterinary professionals and para-professionals have to be trained regularly to make them useful with their “scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the: protection of animal health and animal welfare; prevention and relief of animal suffering; conservation of animal resources; promotion of public health and advancement of veterinary medical knowledge. The trained personnel do swear through a veterinary oath to: practice their profession conscientiously; with dignity and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics. As applicable; they do accept as a lifelong obligation for the continual improvement of their professional knowledge and competence”
It is thus incumbent upon veterinary and veterinary para-professionals and their employers to seek and refresh, develop their knowledge and skills on an ongoing basis to maintain an acceptable standard of professional practice and competence. This can be done through Continuous Professional Development (CPD) documented as a process by which veterinarians acquire, maintain and enhance skills and knowledge with which all practicing veterinarians need to meet the requirements of the Veterinary Council’s CPD framework by undertaking activities relevant to their area of practice. While this is advocated for internationally; some countries have already put processes in place and started while others are in developing stage. As we talk, Uganda is already in process.
The Uganda National Household Survey 2016/17 estimates the population of the country at 37.7 million persons with 75.5% being rural based with the population growing at an average rate of 3.0% per annum. National poverty levels stand at 19.7% with high levels of poverty more prevalent in rural areas. Poverty is highest and more prevalent in the Northern and Eastern Regions of Uganda. The agriculture sector (where livestock belongs) contributes to 23.5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with livestock growth at an average of 2.5% per annum but less than that of human population growth. Livestock /animal keeping is popular in the country for economic purposes and need to be encouraged since 52% of all households in the country keep livestock albeit such stakeholders being poor. Livestock products in rural areas contribute to 18% of incomes for households while it contributes to 12% in urban areas. Livestock in Uganda from an IGAD report was re-evaluated and its GDP contribution rose from 1.7% to 3.2% with a real value of 526 Million US$ Dollars. Inadequate animal welfare in Uganda predisposes to disease which is attributed to causing the loss of an estimated 86.3 Million US $ per year in the livestock sub-sector. Therefore - animal welfare and health especially as regards inadequate:training, inputs and outreach services in livestock is a major challenge. Animal welfare requires national strategic address to enable sustainable improvements in animal health, animal production, food security and livelihoods for the ever increasing human populations as we target the Uganda Vision 2040 to enable households to move from poverty to prosperity as also required by UN-SDA/SDGs, the OIE and the African Union.
The animal resources for the country are as follows (2016):
While most cattle, goats, sheep, chicken and donkeys are raised in various Regions where the cattle corridor pass by virtue of semi-aridity of these areas especially in dry periods; livestock including pigs and donkeys are also raised in the two non-cattle corridor areas (with milder and better climate) (Figure 1). The semi-arid parts of the cattle corridor largely use pastoralism and communal livestock keeping. Bee keeping is in all areas in Uganda. Livestock in the non-cattle corridor areas are generally fewer per holding and slightly better cared for in terms of: disease control, feeds and watering problems. In general – Uganda’s livestock resource is at high risk of less production due to constraints in providing them with conducive animal welfare requirements such as: training of veterinary and para-veterinary professionals and other stakeholders in addition to other farm inputs, technical logistics and outreach services. Fish in ponds are part of domesticated animals and have related animal welfare challenges including pollution.
Uganda also has a high wildlife resource as fish and reptiles in the many lakes and rivers as not protected areas but regulated as applicable. It also has fish, reptiles and terrestrial wild animals in the 28 listed Protected Wildlife Areas covering different parts of the country excluding zoos. These wild animals are also challenged and thus require related animal welfare services / care and handling like in livestock to perform well in their expected outputs.
Veterinary human resource in Uganda was originally used as government workers before 1993 – 1997 policy reforms that saw divestiture – liberalization – privatization and decentralization of especially the grass root veterinary extension services. Such services had earlier provided public animal welfare and health services to the majority poor households. After the reforms; most of these systematic services including the training of veterinary and Para-veterinary professionals collapsed leaving majority poor and rural based farmers stuck. It is no wonder then that the mal-functioning of the public good veterinary services /regulatory in the country in animal welfare – animal health – veterinary public .
health and food safety has leads to an estimated loss of 86.3 Million US$ per year attributed to diseases in animals in Uganda.
The cattle corridor area(Figure 1) is semi-arid in dry periods while the left and right sides of the corridor are more agriculturally conducive. The central and southern parts of the cattle corridor and areas outside the cattle corridor mainly keep livestock using communal grazing, extensive, intensive and peri-urban farming methods.
Animals just like us human beings have feelings thus called sentient. With the ability to have feelings; animals thus have physical and psychological needs to be addressed by their owners and or communities in which they are raised. These needs and requirements related to animal husbandry and health are also called animal freedoms. When animal freedoms are given or addressed; they enable animals to survive in nature leading to bio-diversity, attainment of optimum health leading animals to give maximum outputs in their various specialized areas of rearing as related to sustainable household livelihoods. When the 5 Animal Freedoms (5F) below are provided; the animals are said to be in a good state of animal welfare or animal wellbeing. When the 5Fs are provided, their owners or communities are also said to be compassionate – kind – loving and humane to animals. When this is achieved; animals are said not to experience unnecessary pain and suffering; are healthy; output more and qualitative / safe products and provide higher livelihoods for their owners / communities. Animal welfare is actually the building blocks required to attain good animal: health, production and sustainable income earnings by households who depend on animals .Most veterinary professionals, para-veterinary professionals, farmers and other livestock industry value chain stakeholders have inadequate knowledge – skills and competences in the area of animal welfare as a basis for animal health – animal production and sustainable household incomes.
The five freedoms required to achieve a conducive level of animal welfare status are:
There are animal welfare high risk points along the entire livestock value chain which needsspecific attention to alleviate unnecessary pain and suffering of animals at: