Today’s post is about veterinary medicine in third world countries. We have a lot of readers that come both from developed and developing countries and we are grateful for each and every one of them. Through our articles and posts, we tend to provide educational material that can elevate the field of veterinary medicine even higher for the sole purpose of enhancing the well-being of animals and humans.
Many times we come across misunderstandings, especially when it comes to the type of procedures being performed by veterinary professionals working and giving their best in economically and socially challenging areas.
That’s why we decided to write an honest review, so to say, about the challenges veterinarians, vet techs and owners face in third-world countries.
Economical Impact on Animal Husbandry
The most obvious reason why the field of veterinary medicine is undeveloped and third world countries are the financial difficulties inside every pore of the society. Poverty creates an undesired enchanted circle that gives a negative impact on the animal’s health and well-being, the professionalism of the veterinary interventions, the production of farm animals, etc.
Let’s explain this in a more delicate way.
We will first mention situations regarding livestock because they are somewhat priority and a way to reduce the level of poverty for the common people. A family of four owns two dairy cows and sells the milk to a local dairy factory.
The cows are kept in an improvised small farm without proper ventilation or drainage system. Such conditions influence their reproduction capabilities and milk production, and poor and unbalanced diets also play a key role in their health status.
Your first thought maybe that the family is really irresponsible and have no clue what animal husbandry is all about. But these people give their best working day and night to pay the bills, provide minimum conditions for the children, and buy some food. They need the cows, but unfortunately, don’t have the finances to invest in their wellness.
They call their local vet to do artificial insemination but due to reproductive dysfunctions the cows aren’t able to get pregnant, yet the vet bills need to be covered. So they are stuck in a situation where there isn’t any benefit from the cows, but they also need to try artificial insemination a couple more times. Restricted funds don’t let them pay the veterinary expenses on time.
The veterinarian is aware of the situation and agrees to get paid later on. The sad thing is that this family isn’t the only client that owes the vet money and there are a lot more people in a similar situation.
During this time the veterinarian spends a lot of money on basic expendable materials and medications needed for the private practice. Because he doesn’t get paid on time by farmers, he also ends up owing the distributors.
With barely managing to keep his business alive, there isn’t a possible chance of purchasing better equipment and lifting the expertise level of the veterinary practice.
This doesn’t mean that the animal owners don’t want to provide better conditions for their animals. This doesn’t mean that the veterinarian isn’t smart enough or educated enough to step up the game and raise the standards of veterinary medicine in his country.
It means that the dysfunctional flow of finances doesn’t let them invest.
Small Animal Practices in Third World Countries
Small animal practices in developing third-world countries are galaxies away from what you might imagine. Most of the time there isn’t even a typical clinic and vets deal with sick dogs and cats on the field.
The general occupation of small animal vets in these countries is preventing, investigating, and treating infectious diseases, and maybe elementary surgical procedures. The absence of proper diagnostic tools and equipment makes their job a living hell.
Again, due to financial reasons, they aren’t able to buy the things for even the most basic laboratory tests, and most of the time a stethoscope, a thermometer, and their knowledge are their only weapons.
We are all aware that it’s almost impossible to give a definitive diagnosis without a load of diagnostic procedures. That’s why these vets use their experience and sometimes intuition to help the animal. At this point, it’s all down to the symptomatic treatment of the disease.
Even when a certain veterinary practice offers the owner diagnostic testing, it’s questionable whether he or she can cover the expenses both for the tests and the consecutive treatment.
Well, why did the owner get a dog in the first place? If you can’t afford a vet, you can’t afford a pet, correct?… We are afraid that’s not the case in third-world countries. In the urban areas, there is a constant increase in the number of stray animals that live their lives in terrible conditions.
When they do get adopted it’s really a grateful gesture from the owners that are brave enough to spare some extra money for the animal’s needs. Even if they can only afford some cheap doggy food and annual vaccines it’s far better than what the dog or cat use to have.
In this part, we also must mention the occurrence of Rabies in stray animals and people, especially in urban areas in Africa. Many veterinarians are occupied with stray animal vaccinations.
These actions are very dangerous, so we have to give our colleagues a big credit for their courageous attitude and enthusiasm.
We hope that someday the world will be a more peaceful and equal place for everyone. Until then we must give each other support, share advice and knowledge, share compassion, never judge other people’s professional approach and work on becoming the best versions of ourselves.
Veterinary Medicine in First World vs. Third World Countries
Veterinary medicine in many developing countries is at a crossroads, with veterinary graduates often leaving the veterinary practice to take jobs in more lucrative fields.
The veterinary profession in the United States with its large number of veterinary schools, high standards for entry into veterinary practice, and strong system of continuing veterinary education has produced veterinarians who are highly trained and capable of good patient care.
The same cannot be said for veterinary medicine in many other countries. In some third world countries, there may only be one veterinarian per several million people, people who have no formal training except what they learned from an uncle or cousin, and veterinarians whose knowledge base is largely built on personal experience rather than science-based research.
Veterinary medicine as we know it today does not exist in many developing countries, with veterinary graduates often leaving the veterinary practice to take jobs in more lucrative fields.
In veterinary school, we were fortunate enough to have a veterinary student from Nigeria as part of our class. One day after learning about the infectious diseases that ravaged his country he turned to me and said “I have never seen any of these problems in my veterinary practice.”
When we asked him where he had been practicing veterinary medicine he told me “Iraq.” In Iraq, they don’t vaccinate dogs or cats against rabies because there is a fear that the vaccines originate from Israel.
People all over the world are working together to help change this, one step being offering scholarships for veterinary students from third world countries so that they can come back home and teach veterinary medicine to the veterinary graduates of tomorrow.
There is also a strong veterinary education movement spearheaded by veterinary schools in developing countries that are committed to educating veterinary students with high standards, enabling them to practice veterinary medicine responsibly and serve their communities at home.
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