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Cameroon Hunger Project Day 6: The role of the veterinarian

Veterinarians in Cameroon are utilized for similar tasks as the US but they are fewer to come by. Today we spoke with Dr. Humphrey Taboh, Deputy Country Director for Heifer International Cameroon and we spoke to him about what the path to a veterinary license is in the country and how they interact with Heifer pig projects.

Until 2009, Cameroon did not have a Veterinary College available in country. Prior to that year Cameroon was one of five countries that combined together to form a Veterinary College which was located in Senagal with each country entitled to a percentage of enrollment. Other popular options were to attend veterinary universities in Morocco, Belgium or Nigeria as Tobah did. Studying in Senegal could be a challenge to Cameroonians if they came from an English speaking region as all courses were taught only in French. In 2009, Cameroon opened its own Veterinary College in the city of Ngoundere. Veterinary school can take 5-6 years to earn a degree which is followed by a one year internship in a clinic. Once completed, the individual can register on Cameroon’s Veterinary Council and be issued their license.

Positions available for veterinarians in Cameroon are largely in urban and rural clinics, NGOs and government. Government utilizes veterinarians to regulate all slaughter, practices utilized in clinics and imports and exports of veterinary materials. Interestingly enough, small animal veterinarian numbers are rising due to upper classes acquiring pets along with the growing number of watch dogs used for security purposes.

The other method for veterinary method utilized is through four schools located in different regions within Cameroon for Vet Techs or what Cameroonian’s call Paravets.

The role the veterinary plays in a Heifer Pig Project is crucial, especially during start up. Veterinarians will provide training initially on animal husbandry, construction of housing, nutrition, reproduction, health and teaching the qualities of a good animal. They are active to help producers source and select their animals. The second wave of training the veterinarian delivers focuses on routine profalactive treatment including anti-stress prior to transportation and biosecurity (implementing a foot bath system for entry and exit in Cameroon).

Veterinarians are overall seen as a resource for drug product use. Once the pigs are assessed the veterinarian provides recommendations on products which the community can then present their needs and financial ask to Heifer. Routine procedure is to deworm, vaccinate and general treatment. Biggest disease challenges include Erysipelas and African Swine Fever, secondary challenge are Mange and parasites.

The veterinarian is involved in a Heifer pig project for the first three years. At that time the group proposes 2-3 persons to be trained by Heifer for community animal health training. These individuals will be the link between the community and the Veterinarians. Also at this time the group will start paying for veterinary services from their community funds gained by their pigs.

As you can see, Africa and North America heavily rely on veterinarians to meet their animal health needs.