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Issues in Veterinary Science. Nick Kriek, Dean Faculty of Veterinary Science University of Pretoria. What is veterinary science?. The veterinary profession exists globally and plays a critical role in many fields pertaining to the health of animals and the health and welfare of humankind.

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Issues in veterinary science l.jpg

Issues in Veterinary Science

Nick Kriek, Dean

Faculty of Veterinary Science University of Pretoria


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What is veterinary science?

The veterinary profession exists globally and plays a critical role in many fields pertaining to the health of animals and the health and welfare of humankind


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The veterinary profession in South Africa

  • 2500 registered veterinarians

  • 70% in private practice

  • 70% of those in small animal practice

  • 30% in public practice

  • 150 Specialists


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Companion animal practice

  • Dogs and cats

  • Other animals kept as pets

  • Horses

  • Horse-racing industry


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Other types of private practice

  • Mixed practice

  • Production animal practice

    • Cattle

    • Small stock

    • Pigs

    • Poultry

  • Wildlife


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Public practice

  • Governmental regulatory veterinary services

    • Disease surveillance

    • Diagnostic laboratories

    • Epidemiology, GIS and other data-management systems

    • Disease control


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Public practice

  • Certification

  • Import-export control

  • Policy development

  • Public health

  • Research


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    Public practice

    • Academia

    • Para-statals (ARC, MRC, NRF, etc)

    • NGOs (PPF, PFI, MPI, Organised agriculture and related activities, etc)

    • Industry

      • Pharmaceutical companies

      • Feed industry


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    Public practice - CPAs

    • Adequate and sustainable amounts of food for human consumption

    • Safe food

    • Control of zoonotic diseases

    • Control of serious animal diseases (TADs)

    • Bio-terrorism

    • Veterinary public health


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    Public practice - CPAs

    • Diagnostic services

    • Import/export control

    • Conservation of biodiversity

    • Environmental health

    • Wildlife, livestock, farming and communities interface

    • Research


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    Critical factors: contribution by the veterinary profession

    • Enabling the economic production of

      • Sustainable and sufficient amounts of

      • Safe animal protein, and

      • By-products needed by various manufacturing sectors

    • Veterinary public health

    • Increasing the health and welfare of the communities of South Africa indirectly through poverty reduction and wealth creation, and

    • Animal welfare


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    Developing world

    • Implementation of policies to drive development:

      • Poverty reduction

      • Provision of sustainable sources of animal protein

      • Control of zoonoses

      • Control of important diseases of animals (epidemic and TADs), and

      • Primary health care specifically to benefit humans



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    Service delivery: perceptions

    • Regulatory services

      • The current disarray because of decentralisation

    • Disease surveillance

      • Inadequate disease surveillance because of

        • Decentralised management

        • The different priorities, standards and norms

        • Lack of human and financial resources, and

        • Decrease in quality and functionality of diagnostic laboratories

    • Data management and GIS systems are inadequate


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    Diagnostic services

    • Decline of the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute (OVI) as a national reference laboratory

      (Ministerial Report – Minister of Science and Technology - The status of research at the OVI, OBP and the Faculty of Veterinary Science)

    • Provincial, regional and state veterinary laboratories: Lack of

      • Human resources

      • Infrastructure

      • Laboratory apparatus, and

        to sustain the activities on an adequate level


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    National and provincial departments of agriculture

    • Norms and standards differ

    • Constitutional dilemma

    • Sustainability of current system

    • Impact on the control of diseases

    • Impact on acceptability of certification

    • International status


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    Research

    Decline in research capacity:

    • OVI

    • Historical institutional poor research output of the Veterinary Faculties


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    Rural private practice

    • Decline in numbers and involvement

    • Universal trend

    • Reasons varied and complex

    • Impact on commercial and emerging farming sectors


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    Numerous vacancies for veterinarians and technologists

    Pronounced effect on the standards of services provided

    The post establishments do not necessarily reflect the optimal numbers of employees

    Little or no provision made for career paths and

    No provision for recognition of specialists

    Perceptions that employment in veterinary services and in public health in particular, is not an acceptable career path

    Human resources



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    Veterinary training

    • The nature of training, and

    • The activities of the veterinary profession cannot remain as they are at the moment

    • Should they not change

      • The profession may find itself irrelevant in a society where the necessary services may then be offered by other professions and disciplines more suited to address the various needs


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    Veterinary education in SA: Regional and international issues

    • Regulatory veterinary medicine

    • Risk management

    • Epidemiology

    • Certification

    • Import-export control


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    Veterinary education in SA: Regional and international issues

    • Diagnostics

    • Zoonoses

    • Data management

    • Veterinary public health


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    Veterinary education in SA: Drivers issues

    • Impossible to fully train a veterinarian that will be able to address all the needs of the various sectors

    • Future of the current veterinary curriculum

    • Expanding needs and levels of sophistication of the various sectors


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    Veterinary education: perceptions issues

    • A perceived bias in the training programme on companion animals and private practice

    • The single faculty causes an unacceptable degree of inbreeding

    • Faculty lacks the capacity to address the diverse needs of the South African livestock sector and of Government

    • Inadequately financed

    • A lack of competency in research


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    Veterinary education: perceptions issues

    • Too few black and coloured veterinarians

    • Training is too long and expensive

    • Inappropriate training from the perspective of Government and certain sectors of industry and organised agriculture

    • The expanding content and sophistication of veterinary training


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    Options in veterinary training issues

    • Tracking or streaming within a single curriculum

    • A degree of pre-graduate ‘specialization’, or

    • Eventually, the development of two or more independent degree programmes


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    Options in veterinary training issues

    • Two or more different programmes

    • Basic generic (core) training

    • Emphasis on different fields of activity:

      • Large animal practice with emphasis on management (financial and farm)

      • Mixed animal practice

      • Regulatory veterinary medicine

      • Wildlife and environmental health practice

      • Small animal practice

      • Equine practice


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    Needs to implement changes in training programme issues

    • Changes in the Veterinary and Para-veterinary Act

    • Perceptions of the profession and the general public

    • Political awareness and will to change

    • Urgency of the matter – time-lag



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    Specific issues to deal with issues

    • A total lack of awareness of what veterinarians do

    • A general perception that veterinarians are doctors of pets

    • There is a perceived low status of the profession in society

    • The income of veterinarians, be they in private of public practice, does not compare favourably with those of the professions

    • The working hours of veterinarians are long and the work is physical


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    Specific issues to deal with issues

    • The training period is long and the programme is expensive

    • The programme is difficult and the volume of material overwhelming

    • There are perceptions that the University of Pretoria imposes special restrictions to limit access to black students


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    Specific issues to deal with issues

    • There is a perception that the University of Pretoria remains an exclusively white, Afrikaans university

    • There is a perception that the environment on the Onderstepoort campus is foreign and does not cater for the needs of black students

    • There are perceptions that there may be elements of racism on the Onderstepoort campus that make life difficult for the black students


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    Veterinary specialization issues

    • Postgraduate programmes and specialization

    • There is a lack of adequate post-graduate programmes in certain fields of activity

    • Areas needed by Government to fulfil its needs and obligations

    • International criteria pertaining to certification


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    Proposed actions issues

    (Recruitment strategy document: Dept of Agriculture and Land Affairs)


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    Proposed actions issues

    • Create an integrated and fully functional national state veterinary service

    • Develop a marketing plan

    • Create awareness

    • Develop a comprehensive organizational diagram outlining the full complement of required staff


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    Proposed actions issues

    • Develop a financial plan

    • Develop and implement a suitable recruitment programme

      • Attend to the needs of transformation

      • Attend to the needs of Government

      • Consider the possibility of attracting trained veterinarians from SADC countries and elsewhere in Africa


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    Proposed actions issues

    • Consider utilising veterinarians already retired to act as mentors

    • Facilitate student recruitment from the designated groups

    • Facilitate the development and implementation of suitable formal training programmes


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    Proposed actions issues

    • Recruit suitable employees

    • Improve levels of training

    • Develop and implement a retention strategy

    • Improve working conditions

    • Develop adequate infrastructure commensurate with the expected levels of activity and within the context of accreditation and international quality control requirements


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    Proposed actions issues

    • Liaise with role players

    • Facilitate adequate and appropriate training

    • Facilitate adaptation of formal training programmes

    • Ensure financial security and sustainability


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    Sustainability of the Faculty of Veterinary Science issues

    • Recognition that it is the only faculty of its kind in SA

    • Recognition of its relevance

    • Recognition of its strategic importance for the country

    • Recognition of its vulnerability

    • Recognition of its financial insecurity



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    Income and Expenditure issues

    Faculty of Veterinary Science for 2001



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    Faculty of Veterinary Science: issues

    Actual income and expenditure for 2004



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    Recapitalization student for 2002/2003 (Gauteng)

    • The veterinary academic hospital was extensively upgraded in 1992

    • During the 13 years since this upgrading, the hospital equipment and equipment in research and diagnostic laboratories have deteriorated

    • Recapitalization needed for the:

      • Veterinary academic hospital,

      • Ambulatory and outpatient clinics,

      • Herd health, and

      • Diagnostic support and research laboratories

    • The cost of recapitalization is estimated to be in the region of R64,8m


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    PROPOSALS student for 2002/2003 (Gauteng)

    • It is proposed that the Department of Education consider:

    • Adapting the New Funding Framework to facilitate a special subsidy allocation to defray the enormous cost connected with

      • The administration,

      • Maintenance and operation of a veterinary academic hospital complex,

      • Research and diagnostic support laboratories, and

      • The animal farm (OTAU)


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    PROPOSALS student for 2002/2003 (Gauteng)

    • Enter into negotiations with the

      • National Department of Agriculture and the

      • Department of Science and Technology to

    • Explore possible alternative sources of financing for those components of the

      • Veterinary academic hospital at Onderstepoort, e.g. the large animal component, and the

      • Research and diagnostic support laboratories

      • Farm animal facility


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    PROPOSALS student for 2002/2003 (Gauteng)

    • Possible alternatives of financing the pressing need for refurbishing the theatres, wards, instruments, apparatus, and allied support laboratories in the veterinary academic hospital, and

    • Allocating a special grant for this purpose


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    The future of Veterinary Science in SA student for 2002/2003 (Gauteng)

    Critical decisions to be made

    • Relevance

    • Funding

    • National and provincial structures

    • Post establishment

    • Recognition of specialization

    • Globalization and regionalization