So, you have your plane ticket and you are gearing up to visit Developing Country Z (we’ll call it Zingo). You are hoping to undertake a project that will be useful and sustainable. Your Commander (or your Foundation, or your Faith-Based Organization) has said that what is needed in Zingo is improving animal health, because the SMALLHOLDERS there are suffering and there is a possibility of decreased food availability.
There are 1.5 billion of them in the world, and most live on less than $2 per day. You may be surprised to learn that they produce about 80% of the food supply in much of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa…
Keeping these small family farms economically viable is a positive step for the environment as well as for the economy.
The UN-FAO estimates that approximately 20% of all animal protein is lost due to disease, and this happens primarily at the smallholder level.
“Smallholders are small-scale farmers, pastoralists, forest keepers, fishers who manage areas varying from less than one hectare to 10 hectares.”
Unfortunately, their livelihoods and abilities to feed themselves are constantly threatened and impacted by the “diseases of the public good”.
Since these continue to circulate, these producers can never really get full value for their animals, and they rarely get ahead enough to enable them to increase their offtake and feed more mouths.
A crucial global development goal is to keep smallholders productively “employed” on their land to create more food for the world, and to earn sufficient money so their youth are able to forge a future in their own communities. Also, when youth are forced to leave their lands and venture elsewhere due to economic hardship, the potential for recruitment to Violent Extremist Organizations increases.
When you tell your friends and in-laws that you’re going to Country Zingo to help improve the livestock health, all you may hear is, "Hey, people consume too much meat anyways, why should we promote livestock development, can’t we just convert everyone to being a vegetarian?"
Nutrition needs in the developing countries are very different from ours. Yes, we consume too much meat, but in the developing world the poor do not have enough. Humans MUST HAVE animal-source foods (ASF) for health and development.
Research shows that consuming ASF on a daily basis is essential for growth and cognition, especially in the 0-5 year old age range. Without a small amount of ASF each and every day, e.g., an egg, a glass of milk, or a piece of meat, the brain does not develop fully and children are cognitively stunted, permanently. Today there are at least 150M children in the world who are cognitively stunted, and many more are at risk.
The parents of these children have just lost most of their chickens to Newcastle disease, so there is now no income from eggs. Consequently the family’s income has dropped from $2 per day to $1 per day. What will happen to these children?
His horse has epizootic lymphangitis, a severe disease of the leg lymphatics, which will keep the horse from pulling the cart effectively. The boy’s expression may be showing his concern about the increasing load he will have to carry himself.
Bush meat is consumed in many countries. It is hunted in times of scarcity of other meats, but then sometimes actually becomes a preferred meat, and is sold even in times of plenty. Also, there are some countries where dietary preferences are highly varied, with “fresh markets” containing wild animals for sale for food being a regular occurrence.
Participants in necropsies are careful to equally share meat portions among each other. Their families will be very pleased to have this protein for their meals. The need for animal protein is so great that even leftovers from necropsy are used.
Okay, so the need is urgent, how exactly as we, as veterinarians, going to help???
We have to remove our private practice training and think differently. Running into a country and implementing our technical expertise gained through the four years of veterinary school is probably NOT the answer. Should we be deworming or vaccinating animals, performing surgery, or doing clinical examinations? NO!!! For a few reasons –
> FIRST, if you don’t have a license to practice veterinary medicine in that country, you should not be treating animals. Would you allow a non-licensed veterinarian who comes to the US from another country to do surgery on your cow or your cat? I think the answer is probably no, not to mention this is also illegal!
> SECOND, for the most part, these are private sector activities, and if you perform them gratis (which of course you will do because you can’t take money, you don’t have a license for that, and also your Foundation/government/church is paying for everything), you might just be robbing the struggling private vet down the street in Xhoxho, the capital city of Zingo, from charging his minimal fees for doing the same service.
> If you really want to help the country, you will focus on the VS, because it is only when the TADs are well controlled, that the country can begin to focus on the treatable diseases. And that is how a private animal health sector can develop and continue to build a viable animal agriculture sector.
> The desired goal is to move from a struggling VS to a more robust VS, as depicted BELOW. To do this requires a STRATEGY, so you move from being a VETERINARIAN WITH A SYRINGE to a VETERINARIAN WITH A STRATEGY.
NOW you are thinking….. Hmmm, what could I do to understand better about the diseases and challenges in the developing world so that I could help with a strategy that will improve animal health in Zingo?
Fortunately, there are some great resources. For this lesson, we’ll start with the UN-FAO website, which describes many programs this organization has to help smallholders with their animal disease problems.
The other very important intergovernmental organization that will help to give you information about the country you will visit is the World Organisation for Animal Health, also known as the OIE. See the box below for a quick view of the four main pillars of the OIE. Then, the next lesson will go into more detail about the OIE!
So much of what we need to know is on the OIE website! It's so full of information that you can become fully educated about all aspects of animal agriculture, diseases present, numbers of veterinarians, diagnostic laboratories, and veterinary education establishments.
We will look at the OIE website in our next lesson to get additional specific information. For now hold that thought!
Peste des petits ruminants (PPR), a viral disease of sheep and goats, in recent years has spread far beyond its original confines and threatens livelihoods and food security throughout much of the world. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO) is active in trying to stem the spread and hopes to even eradicate this disease from the world.
Go to the FAO website (CLICK BELOW), and find out what is being done to control this devastating disease. Specifically, answer the following questions:
1. How is PPR spread?
2. What is the morbidity and mortality associated with infection?
3. Is there a vaccine?
4. Is there a previous model of disease eradication that could be used for PPR?
5. Can you postulate why we have not yet been able to eradicate PPR?