May 27, 2024

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World Veterinary Day in Rwanda: A Call for Affordable and Accessible Veterinary Services

The Rwanda Council of Veterinary Doctors (RSVD) organized World Veterinary Day 2024, which at the national level was celebrated in Ruhango District, Byimana Sector. The event was held on April 27, 2024, the day that combined Umuganda and vaccination against Rift Valley fever and rabies, and it brought together the community of Ruhango District and veterinary practitioners from across the country.

World Veterinary Day honors the contributions of veterinarians to the health and well-being of animals and society as a whole. This year’s theme is “Veterinarians are essential health workers.” The day also aims to raise awareness about the vital roles that vets play in ensuring animal welfare, public health, food safety, and environmental protection.

During his speech, Mr. Jean Claude Ndorimana, Director General of Animal Resources Development from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), complimented the efforts of veterinarians in protecting human and animal health, urging them to cling strictly to the regulations governing the profession.

He said, “On this World Veterinary Day, we honor the tireless efforts of veterinarians countrywide and worldwide as essential health workers. Their compassion, expertise, and commitment to animal health and welfare make the world better.”

He continued that it’s a day of recognizing that animals also need to be cared for because 75% of emerging epidemic diseases are from animals, and over 60% of diseases affecting humans are transmitted from domesticated and wild animals.

He added that in a world where all standards are changing, to the degree that people find animals infected with different viruses and the risks of transmitting such diseases to humans are increasing, the veterinarian remains the first line of defense.

On the other side, in Rwanda, there are still livestock farmers who are still facing challenges, including the medical treatment of their animals, as said by Marcel Niyonizera, a farmer who lives in Rugerero village, Byimana sector.

He said, “If a cow has a problem, you go to the veterinarian, and they charge you a lot of money and tell you that the medicine is expensive and the insurance costs are also high.”

Returning to the fact that several livestock farmers say that veterinary service is expensive in Rwanda to the point that animal products become more expensive, DG Jean Claude Ndorimana said that they’re telling the truth, but MINAGRI is going to find solutions. He stated the government’s commitment to supporting services, including the veterinary sanitary mandate and livestock insurance, as solutions to such challenges.

He revealed that starting in July, new regulations will be issued to regulate the operation of the veterinary profession, where some services provided by government veterinarians are going to private veterinarians because, currently, 88% of veterinary service providers are private.

He said, “This will help the veterinarians to be close to the livestock farmers, helping them with proper distribution, sanitation, and hygiene, improving the productivity of the livestock, and helping them to vaccinate.”

He added that it will also help in reducing the price of animal products, as well as the alleged fraud of veterinarians.

Dr. Charles Kayumba, RSVD’s chairperson, said that as veterinarians, there are many achievements to be proud of and that even if there are weaknesses to be learned, they will be corrected soon.

He said, “We are celebrating the 24th annual day; there are many things we have achieved, and there are others we plan to achieve in the future, including the veterinary sanitary mandate, which is intended to bring services to people, as well as to find ways to comply with the prices set by the government institutions.”

He highlighted all the problems that still exist between livestock farmers and veterinarians, including the fact that they say that sometimes they receive medicine that doesn’t help their animals and have solutions because there are problems involving the owners, including not accepting training on how the medicine is used and that if it isn’t done as intended, it won’t last.

Vaccinating animals protects their health and welfare. Vaccines allow their immune systems to fight off dangerous infectious diseases before they can cause suffering. A vital tool for responsible pet owners and farmers. The veterinarian is the primary wealth and optimal investment for building a promising future in the agricultural sector.

In the census conducted last year, it showed that in Rwanda there were about 1.5 million cows, about 3 million pigs, and about 5.5 million chickens.

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