Impact and lessons from Covid-19 pandemic: A veterinary perspective

Since the coming of the Covid-19 pandemic late last year, all spheres of life have been adversely affected in one way or the other and the veterinary sector has not been left behind.

It is on this background that the Kenya Veterinary Association organised a webinar themed “Covid-19: Frontline Experiences and the Veterinary Perspective’’.

The webinar which is slated for every Thursday afternoon going into the upcoming weeks seeks to enhance is a forum for the Veterinarians to share experiences, meet and interact as well as undertake Continuous Professional Development (CPD). Over 160 veterinarians attended the webinar. Such forums in the past have been through physical meetings but due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the government directive to observe social distancing and restrictions on number of individuals gathering, a webinar came in handy.

The Kenya Veterinary Association (K.V.A) is a professional membership organization for all veterinarians in Kenya in both public and private sectors registered under the societies Act Cap 108 of the Laws of Kenya.

The mandate of the association is to act as a watchdog for the veterinary profession to ensure welfare of the veterinarians and assists them to realize their role in the community with an overall aim of enhancing animal welfare, while the mission is to influence the establishment of a highly motivated veterinary profession in Kenya which will deliver quality veterinary services, positively contributing to the continued improvement of animal welfare and support growth in the animal resource industry.

Among the speakers who graced the webinar was Prof. Kiama Gitahi, the current Vice Chancellor of the University of Nairobi. Prof. Kiama is a well-seasoned Veterinary Surgeon with a Phd in Veterinary Anatomy.

He highlighted the use of quarantine, identification and traceability, surveillance, isolation, hygiene and sanitation as used in veterinary medicine for control of animal diseases and related these terms to how they are now being used in reference to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For example, during an epidemic of notifiable diseases such as Anthrax and Foot and mouth in an area, Veterinary authorities impose a quarantine prohibiting movement of animals out of that area. Similarly, when a farmer buys an animal, it should first be isolated for some time before being introduced into the herd in an effort to monitor it and prevent spread of infection.

The don observed that trade of livestock products such as eggs, meat and milk as well as livestock was affected when some areas such as Mombasa, Kilifi and Garissa were place under lockdown. The effect of this pandemic on Nyama Choma business which provides the highly regarded delicacy for Kenyans in urban areas is yet to be established.

He also said that Veterinary schools in the country have been closed and challenged the Private practitioners and University lectures to come up with ideas of how teaching of veterinary medicine can be conducted virtually at times like this.

It was noted that it is good for veterinarians to ensure biosecurity for clients and farms.

Prof. Kiama challenged the Vets who participated that new skills such as adaptability, communication skills and collaboration are required to survive these times. He called on the vets as disease control experts to air their voice and support the global call of combating this menace. He further advised the vets to use technology to enhance service delivery among their clients.

This article was written by Paul Thiong’o and Dr. Paul Kang’ethe

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Covid-19 pandemic