The president of the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC), Dr Alfred Kgasi, says he is concerned that the country is not producing enough veterinarians in the wake of a fast-growing population.
Kgasi also tells Food For Mzansi that much more needs to be done to bring this highly specialised field to the doorstep of disadvantaged communities whose animals need it the most.
Tiisetso Manoko: The SAVC strives to provide the people of Mzansi with quality veterinary care that is not only relevant to the country’s needs, but also in line with international best-practice standards. What is the top challenge you face?
Dr Alfred Kgasi: Many South Africans do not have access to veterinary care, especially in rural areas. Veterinary professionals can play a bigger role in improving food security through advising farmers on how to reduce disease-related mortalities and production losses.
Awareness and knowledge about animal welfare and care is still not adequately disseminated in the country. The veterinary profession, together with the government, should develop strategies to promote and incentivise the opening in rural areas.
Tell us about some of the projects you have in the pipeline to achieve your goals?
The SAVC is engaging government on authorising para-veterinarians to play a greater role in servicing communities in rural areas. The council will also be embarking on a drive to foster collaborative inter-dependencies between the members of the veterinary profession, in providing a broader and comprehensive service to clients.
What is your vision for the SAVC?
Quality and accessible veterinary service for all in South Africa. That is what we aim for.
In December 2021, Food For Mzansi reported that the country was facing a severe shortage of veterinarians. What seems to be the problem?
Veterinary care is still highly privatised, with limited availability of primary animal health care facilities in most parts of the country. The concept of universal health coverage should be applied to the veterinary world too. People should have access to animal health services they need when they need them, without financial hardship.
What is your message to young people, especially those who are dreaming of becoming veterinarians and para-veterinarians?
At the heart of wanting to be a veterinarian or para-veterinarian, there should be a very deep-seated love for people, animals and the environment. Young persons who would like to pursue a veterinary career, should have a rooted passion to always serve people and their animals at any time.
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