Meet our new member the Veterinary Association of Zambia (VAZ)... Dr Amy Kingdom, Secretary of the VAZ, tells us about its work:
The Veterinary Association of Zambia was established in the mid-1900s and has claims to being one of the earliest associations in the country. It was recently incorporated into legislation and now has several statutory functions, the main of which is to register and represent its members. The profession is still growing with most veterinarians being in mixed practice.
What activities are you currently focused on?
We have been running a drive to improve registration levels for professionals and paraprofessionals in Zambia. In 2014, we had 35 registered members and we now have 494 – so we think it’s working! We continue to focus on this and hope to roll out a web-based registration system by the end of 2018 in order to make it easier for our members to complete the annual documentation.
We are also working on:
- Rabies prevention. We run a month long campaign every September which involves our members hosting clinics in their home towns. We supply them with resources to help educate the public. Since we started the campaign, which also focuses on dog bite prevention, deaths from human rabies have dropped from 30 in 2014 to 22 in 2015, 14 in 2016 and 2017 (Zambia Institute of Public Health data). We are continuing to work towards ZERO human deaths by 2030 and hope we will achieve this target even sooner.
- Continuing Professional Development. Many of our members live in very rural areas and it is difficult for them to attend CPD sessions. We are working with industry to provide as much as we can and we focus our CPD efforts around our annual AGM/conference which takes place each April. This year we hosted our first regional conference. The next one will be in Livingstone in 2019, so that international veterinarians can sample the best of our tourist capital while improving education levels at the same time.
We are also involved in many other activities, including the campaign to reduce Antimicrobial Resistance, as well as advocating for improvements in legislation that affects the profession.
What challenges do your members face and what are the key veterinary issues in Zambia currently?
Our members face many challenges, largely due to the difficulties of working in a country which is still developing. In the public sector, our members are faced with a lack of resources. Many do not have transport and receive low salaries. Veterinary services are not highly regarded and there is little knowledge of the role of vets in maintaining and improving public health.
In the private sector, our members are faced with a lack of capital, as well as a low uptake of services by the general public and the lack of capital makes it difficult for them to invest in resources and equipment. The general public in many areas lives below or marginally above the poverty line so many are not able to prioritise veterinary services. Farmers in rural areas find it difficult to find the funds to pay for vets to travel to outlying areas.
In terms of key veterinary issues, we are a society that has had little in the way of veterinary legislation in the past. As we transition, we face issues related to member compliance and need to educate the general public. We are also battling to get the Veterinary Council of Zambia appointed. Since the body was created it has only served one three year term and has not been reappointed by the Minister of Fisheries and Livestock. This sadly leaves the country without a properly regulated profession.
Why did the VAZ feel it was important to join the WSAVA?
As our membership has grown, we have realized that it is important for us to create links with the international veterinary community. The WSAVA has always supported us and provided an annual sponsored CPD session, which we have greatly appreciated. With more members, we are more able to engage independently at an international level. As well as creating further benefits for our members, we would also like to explore how we can contribute to the development of veterinary interaction at a global level.
How do you hope that WSAVA membership will support your members?
We are hopeful that membership will help us to continue to grow and to put us on the global map. We hosted our first regional conference earlier this year and the WSAVA was one of our primary supporters. We hope that the WSAVA will continue to support our growth and are confident that our relationship with the WSAVA will improve the knowledge, education and resources of our members by giving them exposure to international best practice and innovations in the profession.