As we mentioned, so much of what we need to know for our veterinary work in developing countries is right here at the OIE!!
Their website is so full of information that you can become fully educated about many aspects of animal agriculture, diseases present, numbers of veterinarians, diagnostic laboratories, and veterinary education establishments in most countries.
The sad truth is that any veterinarian who visits a foreign country to do animal health work without assessing all the information available about animal health in that country would not likely be of much substantive help for our foreign colleagues. And, she or he would be a poor ambassador.
In a previous lesson, we presented the concept of a Chief Veterinary Officer for each and every country in the world, the person who oversees all of VS in that country. If you are part of an animal health delegation traveling to another country, you should plan as your first stop a courtesy call with this CVO or her/his designated representative. You can find the name of every CVO on the OIE Website, under World Assembly, then look for “Delegates” because the CVO is also called the “OIE Delegate”.
Now let’s check on the status of the VS in the country you're traveling to. The way to do this is through the OIE's rigorous evaluation program, called the Performance of Veterinary Services Pathway -- or PVS Pathway.
The OIE has developed international standards on the quality of the work of Veterinary Services in each country. By checking out this OIE PVS Pathway evaluation before traveling, you will have first-hand knowledge of the VS you will be dealing with, and be better able to see their system with a country-specific lens.
Here's how the VS is evaluated: First, the CVO of any country will ask the OIE to please send a team of experts (most of the experts are retired CVOs) to her or his country to carry out an evaluation called the "Performance of its Veterinary Service" (PVS.) This PVS is an assessment of the VS on a huge array of criteria. This team of experts spends three weeks assessing a multitude of aspects, and then writes its comprehensive report that goes back to that country's CVO. Then this CVO will decide whether or not to make the report public and post it on the OIE website.
A country can later request a PVS "Follow-on Evaluation", which follows a similar format, to assess new improvements as time goes on. Following this effort, a "Gap Analysis" can be done, which is more prescriptive, stating what the country that was evaluated specifically needs to do to improve its VS capabilities.
Most recently, a "Targeted Assistance Plan" might be added after all this to target the specific types of help required.
Navigate around and look for some PVS evaluations, PVS follow-up evaluations, Gap Analysis, and Targeted Support. You may notice that there are numerous countries that have had OIE missions of assessment, but the reports aren’t posted. Understandably, some countries are not willing to post their reports, but fear not. If you are tasked with going to a country such as Zingo, and you cannot find any of their reports, but you DO see that a mission was completed, you can communicate with the CVO of Zingo. Explain that your unit/foundation/church will be visiting in the near future and you would like to help them with any tasks that are needed, and could you please see a copy of their evaluation. Most will be willing to partner with you and will send you the documents.
LINK IN BELOW
Each member country is required to report on all of these parameters every 6 months. Sometimes the Delegate is late, or there is a regime change, and so don’t despair if the information is not absolutely the most recent, but for most it will be very close.
Next, your alma mater has asked you that if you go to this country, they would like to make a connection with a veterinary school there. Okay, you say. BUT, you have no idea if they have a veterinary school or how many they might have.
Well, OIE has an answer for this also…. You’ll find this under the “Solidarity” tab on the OIE Homepage, then go to Veterinary and Veterinary Paraprofessional Education. Halfway down this page you’ll find a link to Global Veterinary Education Establishments (VEEs), click here. Did you know there are 553 VEEs in the world? You can see each country and how many they have, then click on the PDF for the complete list.
Okay, this might be enough for this lesson, almost too much information! Remember that if you go to any country including Zingo, you will NOT be treating, vaccinating, or performing surgery on animals.
You might be wondering, well, what kinds of projects are possible then??
In fact, BELOW are some projects, based on all the information we have presented here, that were implemented to provide sustainable improvement, in various countries:
In Ethiopia, reporting of transboundary animal diseases, from the field to the region, was not occurring, so the VS was not able to spend its limited resources wisely for control. A program of training farmers on awareness and reporting was conducted, resulting in improved recognition and reporting of disease!
In Chad, camels were decreasing in value, causing the young pastoralists to leave their communities in search of other opportunities. Field diagnostics were implemented, pinpointing the problem as surra, a trypanosomal disease, and that there were recurring problems with resistance in the drugs used to treat this disease. Training on how to diagnose surra, and then demonstrating how to conduct parasiticide resistance trials, solved the problem, and restored the value of camels on the marketplace.
A nascent program for licensing of veterinarians was developed, but it could not progress further because of the lack of any continuing education that had ever been offered. A pilot program of continuing education was developed and delivered, creating increasing incentive to institute this as a recurring offering.
Ongoing TRAIN-THE-TRAINER courses, and bringing new up-to-date information and necropsy techniques to local veterinarians... these photos are from Uganda where participants are learning how to do blood smears and cell counts. They will then train others downstream.
Building gray matter is ALWAYS sustainable, and done right, it makes for great ambassadors also. Consequently, the NEXT lesson will be about ADULT LEARNING, or how to conduct fun and interactive lessons, and to be a leader in effective trainings without powerpoints or a podium!
Explore the OIE website, peruse some evaluations from the PVS pathway, and write one or two paragraphs suggesting a useful project in a particular country. Write the paragraph to a mythical funder, complete with the reasons why this should be accomplished and the benefits to the country as a result of your work!