By Kristen May 22, 2013 10:10 am
Laos is on the brink of rainy season. A bountiful rainy season is crucial for agricultural production however; it also creates environmental conditions that promote bacterial growth. This can put farm animals at risk for diseases like Hemorrhagic Septicemia 
. Vaccination is the best way to protect cattle and prevent death from this disease. That’s why our team from Vets without Borders
is training Primary Animal Health Workers (PAHWs) on cattle vaccination. This training will provide PAHWs with the knowledge they need to educate local farmers on the benefits of cattle vaccination and give them the skills to administer the vaccines independently.
PAHWs watch attentively as Vet. Margot demonstrates how to properly fill a syringe with vaccine.
Margot uses a stethoscope to listen to the breathing of a distressed calf.
After last week’s theory-based training, PAHWs mobilized for the first day of practical training on the Faculty of Agriculture (FoA) Cattle Farm. After a quick review of the proper technique and a demonstration by Vet. Margot, the PAHWs were eager to give cattle vaccination a shot (literally!)
PAHWs use a digital thermometer to check the body temperature of a calf.
It was chaotic in the cattle pen at first, but our PAHWs were unfazed! With the guidance of Prof. Chantha and Vet. Margot, the PAHWs assembled into teams and worked together to restrain the cattle. One by one, the PAHWs filled their syringes with vaccine, handled the cattle and administered the injection.
This was my first time witnessing cattle vaccination. It was so exciting! I watched each PAHW closely and keenly took down notes to make sure every PAHW got a chance to show us their skills. As I checked their names off my list, they smiled proudly, happy to have successfully completed each task.
After only a couple of hours, the PAHWs had already vaccinated 36 heads of cattle!
This is a cattle pen in Palai Village. Notice how different it is from the pen we worked with at the Faculty of Agriculture Cattle Farm.
PAHWs take turns filling syringes with vaccine for Hemorrhagic Septicemia.
With the first day of practice under their belts, the PAHWs were ready to conquer day two of practical training. This time we assembled in Palai Village to see how PAHWs would perform on a real farm.
PAHWs working together to handle and vaccinate cattle in Palai.
Every farm we visited was different and it was impressive to see how quickly the PAHWs could adapt their skills based on the environment they had to work with. Handling the cattle was more difficult without the structural facilities of the FoA Cattle Farm but our group of talented PAHWs managed to overcome the obstacles and vaccinate another 29 heads of cattle.
This brings our grand total of vaccinated cattle to 65!
It was a two-day vaccination sensation! Now our trained PAHWs are ready to continue the Hemorrhagic Septicemia vaccination campaign in their own villages.
PAHWs write down the name of each farm they visit and the number of cattle they vaccinate. This helps them keep track of the village's protection against disease.
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 Merck (2012). Transmission, epidemiology, and Pathogenesis. Overview of Hemorrhagic Septcemia. Retrieved on May 16, 2013 from http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/generalized_conditions/hemorrhagic_septicemia /overview_of_ hemorrhagic_septicemia.html
By Kellie 9:05 am
Habari! (our Swahili hello!)
We wrote this blog while sitting at our hotel in the beautiful city of Morogoro (we specify because where and when we write and where and when we are able to post may be different). Morogoro is situated approximately 193km southwest of Dar es Salaam (Dar) where we began our Tanzanian adventure. Perhaps we’ll start our story from the beginning for you…
We (Jodi, Adam and Kellie) arrived in Dar after approximately 17 hours total in the air. We encountered numerous interesting situations along the way. These included: Ethiopian Air’s “get your own drink policy” and Addis Ababa airport (such an unusual airport experience!). After landing in Dar it was refreshing to have our feet on solid ground. It was here we met Dr. Angaza Gimbi, our chaperone for the next two weeks. Gimbi (as we call him) is a veterinarian who works with the Open University of Tanzania and has been involved with the Tanzanian Poultry Project since its inception.
Over the last five days we have visited the Open University of Tanzania, Muhimbili University School of Public Health and Social Sciences, Muhimbili National Hospital, and Sokoine University of Agriculture (which includes the veterinary school of Tanzania) and spoke with many individuals who have lent ideas to the project and added some perspective for the future. Being in Tanzania and speaking with locals about the project has made us all very excited to arrive in Ilima and get to work on the project.
A taste of what we’ve experienced so far
Food and Drink
We’ve been incredibly spoiled in Dar and Morogoro with delicious hotel and restaurant food. Morogoro has been especially wonderful with an awesome selection of Indian food. Other than bottled water, which we drink a lot of, we’ve got to try four of the countries selection of beer. We’re divided on the best with Jodi choosing Kilimanjaro, Adam backing Safari, and Kellie liking Serengeti.
Hot, hot, hot! Although it is the rainy season, the pouring rain happens once every few days and last for maybe 20 minutes. The rest of the time we experience bright, beautiful sunshine and approximately 29 degree heat.
The sun rises at 7am and sets at 7pm – pretty much on the dot! The pace here is much slower than Canada; appointment times are flexible and it appears that only motorcycle drivers and tour buses are in a rush to go anywhere.
Everyone we’ve met in the last five days has been extremely welcoming and patient with our broken, poorly pronounced Swahili. We’ve had the honour of being invited into Gimbi’s home to share lunch with his family, as well join in dinner with them at the nearby Arc Hotel. One afternoon, we travelled to the Rock Garden in Morogoro and got to play cards and learn our Swahili numbers with Gimbi’s daughters – they won each game but we came out with 1-10 down pat!
So far the project is more ears-on than hands-on because we’re still making the journey to Ilima and Lubanda villages in Rungwe district. The discussions with everyone about the project has made us very excited to finish our journey and start our work!
We have already touched on our 17 hours in flight – the ‘planes’ in our title, but we should explain the rest of it. There are no trains in Tanzania. There are tracks, but nothing more than that…and they need them! We wish we knew all the details but we’re not experts. Apparently, they had trains and they frequently break down so now everything and everyone is moved by car on the main roads to the cities. This many trucks and cars on the roads (which are often two lanes only) can lead to some scary situations (which we’ve seen first hand…unfortunately). However, despite the other scary drivers, we’ve been very lucky to have Gimbi offer to drive us. With two day long road trips, it’s nice to have Gimbi leading the way!
Swahili word of the day
We thought it would be interesting to share a word with everyone – you can learn along with us! This blog’s word choice is: Karibu. Karibu translates to welcome. It is said both at your arrival (“you are warmly welcome here”) and upon your departure (“you are more than welcome back again”) from the places you visit.
By Ilse May 21, 2013 9:08 am
Arrived in Entebbe yesterday, after a couple of days of long flights. Still haven’t quite absorbed the fact that I am here in Africa. Was picked up from the airport by Frank (our main contact in Entebbe)’s brother Silas who handed me a phone to talk to the rest of the team. I followed him to the parking lot where he very briefly introduced me to his friends and told me to follow them and then walked away (to pay for parking?). I followed them without really having any idea of where I was being led and put my bags in the car. They took me to Green Valley Guest House where I unpacked my bags and rested while I waited for the rest of the gang (Katie, Elad, Tara and Devon) to get back from Safari that evening.
Adam (another student from WCVM) who is here with Students for Development is also staying here at Green Valley. We went to the market in the afternoon to exchange some money and buy some water. I think I was still a bit too out of it to take everything in but I will definitely want to check out the market again.
Once the others returned we caught up a bit over the exciting things we did over the past week (their safari and my RAVS (rural area vet services) trip to Arizona). Frank took us to his favourite “street meat” vendor in town. As soon as we opened the van door we were swarmed by vendors looking to sell us some roasted chicken. We walked past most of them and then sat down at a table and ordered “Club” beer and bitter lemon (a more awesome non-sweetened version off sprite).
After a great meal Frank brought us to “The Red Rooster” where we played a couple of games of pool (well, technically snooker). Great first night in Uganda, exhausted, excited, and ready to get started on the project.
P.S., if you guys want to hear more about what we are up to check out the Global Vets Uganda blog that Devon, Tara and Elad are writing: www.globalvetsuganda2013.blogspot.com
By Kristen May 20, 2013 5:25 am
Twenty-two Primary Animal Health Workers (PAHWs) eagerly filed into a large room of the Community Centre, ready to participate in a day of theory-based training. PAHWs are from eleven villages in the local area and have been trained by Vets without Borders and The National University of Laos (NUOL) to provide animal health care services to farmers in their community. However, the work of a PAHW is not limited to animals; PAHWs help educate local farmers about proper animal nutrition, hygiene and vaccination.
PAHWs listen carefully and take notes as Prof. Chantha explains four different cattle diseases.
Upon arriving to the classroom, the PAHWs were greeted by vet, Dr. Margot Camoin, Professor Chantha of the Faculty of Agriculture and Dr. Daovy Kongmanila of the Livestock and Fishery Department. Prof. Chantha began the day with a series of presentations on diseases such as Anthrax, foot and mouth disease, hemorrhagic septicemia and black leg. The PAHWs took notes enthusiastically as Prof. Chantha described the causation, transmission, symptoms, treatment and prevention of each disease. When pictures of infected animals were shown, many PAHWs nodded as if to indicate familiarity or experience with a disease.
After sharing a delicious Lao lunch of tom padaek, ping moo, khao niaoand tam mak hoong, the PAHWs returned to the classroom where Margot lead the afternoon session on vaccination. The PAWHs participated by sharing their own experiences with vaccines. Some also took part in class exercises by acting out scenarios, drawing on the whiteboard and answering questions.
- A tasty, traditional Lao lunch of tom padaek (fish stew), ping moo (grilled pork), khao niao (sticky rice) and tam mak hoong (papaya salad). YUM!
Somsanook volunteers to show us when rainy season starts and when cattle vaccination should occur using a monthly timeline.
By the end of the day, PAHWs were equipped with a package of knowledge about cattle disease and vaccination. Now they are ready to put their skills into action and keen to return for two days of practical training in vaccination of cattle against hemorrhagic septicemia next week.
- Margot simplifies the concept of vaccination using a soccer analogy. She makes this lesson fun by having six PAHWs act as opposing soccer teams (animal vs. disease). Vaccination helps the animal team win the match!
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By Kristen May 19, 2013 3:22 am
Hi! My name is Kristen and I am a grad student from the University of Guelph. When I accepted my offer of admission to the Master of Public Health Program, I had absolutely no idea that it would result in me spending a summer abroad. But here I am in Paksapmei, a village 35 kilometers outside Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, a country that I would have struggled to locate on a map a year ago.
I’m still adapting to the overwhelming heat, spicy food and unfamiliar language but today marks the second week of my work as Communications Intern for Vets without Borders. For the next three months I will be busy writing a research article, assisting on grant proposals, creating posters for project participants and of course, updating this blog with fascinating stories, pictures and videos of the VWB projects in Laos!
Stay tuned, new posts on cattle vaccination training for PAHWs coming soon!
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By Guillermo May 17, 2013 11:24 pm
First Day at Allandale Veterinary Hospital:
Today was an exciting day, my first full day at the clinic. It was a slow day, so I got a chance to see how they run some lab test like preanesthesia, heart worm test, hematology test, etc.
Tomorrow will join Dr. Lechten on an Tv apperance, on the Animal Housecalls show.
Primer día en Allandale Veterinary Hospital:
Hoy fue un día emocionante, era mi primer día completo en el hospital.
No hubieron muchos pacientes, así que pude ver como llevan a cabo algunas pruebas de laboratorio, como exámenes preanestesicos, toma de muestra para verificar la presencia del parasito de corazón en perros, hematológicas, etc.
El dia de mañana acompañare a la Dra. Lechten en un programa de televisión.
By Guillermo May 9, 2013 3:30 am
This is the first blog from one of the Guatemalan veterinarians who volunteered with Veterinarian without Borders-Canada in Todos Santos, on Feb 2013. During that time, she made a connection with the people from Allandale Veterinary Hospital, and as a result she was invited to go to Canada for a one-month practicum.
With the help of Allandale Veterinary Hospital and Veterinarians without Borders-Canada, Dr. Heidi Sandoval was able to make her long-standing dream into a reality. Here is her first blog…
“It is 4:15 am and I just arrived at La Aurora International Airport. Just left my 2 boys and husband about 20 minutes ago. I will see them in 34 days.
Today I fly to Toronto, Canada, where Dr. Lechten will host me at her clinic, Allandale Veterinary Hospital for a month.
Definitely this will be a challenge for me and a great opportunity to learn and receive training.
After a 14 hour trip I arrived at Toronto, will meet tomorrow with Dr. Lechten”.
By Guillermo May 5, 2013 11:55 pm
It has been a few weeks since we left Todos Santos, Guatemala. It was a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to go back next year. Natalie and Melissa did a great job talking about our day to day experiences, so I am going to use my blog to just give some general observations.
- Canadian and Guatemalan doctors working for a common cause, in Todos Santos, Guatemala
Todos Santos is a beautiful village. It is surrounded by mountains which are covered in plots used for farming. We were told that the people can be somewhat suspicious of strangers. However, overall we found everyone to be very open and welcoming. Despite the language barrier, we were able to make a connection with many people. The villagers that brought their pets for care were grateful to be able to provide their pets with surgery and/or vaccines. The pets may not have been cared for in the same way that many of our pets are, but they were absolutely loved. There were people that walked substantial distances while leading their dogs, carrying their cats in bags, corralling small children and carrying babies on their backs. These people then filled out paperwork and patiently waited their turn. Rabies vaccines were given on a first come, first serve basis. Surgeries were by appointment, but that still didn’t eliminate waiting. Since many people had walked a fair distance with their dog for surgery, they watched the surgery, and then waited while their pet recovered enough to be able to walk home. For many people this meant spending the entire day. And yet, there was never a complaint. Instead it was a joyous atmosphere – children playing, people chatting, everyone milling about and watching surgery. Many people stopped by simply to see what was going on. School children in particular enjoyed the opportunity to watch surgery.
A proud owner with his two dogs
There were several dogs that had been coming for years – Junior the Dalmatian, Terry the Rottweiller. They were well cared for and the owners were quite proud of their pets. There were a few dogs and cats that were thin, but the owners were quite open to discussions of how to provide better care for their pets. In most cases, the pets eat what the owners do – tortillas, potatoes, a bit of meat. Dogs and cats do not really provide any meaningful benefit to their families other than companionship. And yet, people who have very little themselves share with their dogs and cats. That is obviously a sign of how much they love their pets.
We provided new collars and leashes to all dogs that had surgery. Unfortunately we did not have enough to provide collars for the vaccine patients. Collars are very important as many dogs run free. Dogs and cats without collars are thought to be strays so are often poisoned. We are planning to have a collar/leash drive prior to next year’s trip in the hopes that we can provide every pet that visits with at least a new collar.
We worked hard and lived simply while we were in Todos Santos. It was a good reminder to be grateful for everything we have. Our rooms were cold at night as Guatemalans (even in larger cities) generally do not heat their homes. Our showers were in a shared washroom and were often chilly. And our meals were eaten outside on a rooftop terrace (sounds romantic, but is actually quite cold at 7 in the morning or 8 at night). However, we got to come home to comfy houses with hot showers. The food we had while in Todos Santos was delicious. We ate three healthy meals per day and didn’t overeat as we tend to do at home. Again, a good lesson that I wish I was better at sticking to.
Overall I can’t say enough about our experience with Veterinarians Without Borders, the new friends we made, the people of Todos Santos and the animals we helped. I feel very blessed that I was able to contribute to improving the lives of people and their pets. The visits to Todos Santos have a tremendous impact. The incidence of rabies in animals and people is being reduced, the number of strays is being reduced and pets are healthier. I can’t wait to go again next year and hopefully we can do even more!
-Dr. Patricia Lechten
By Guillermo April 15, 2013 5:55 pm
Day 5… a blog from Melissa
Landing in Guatemala City airport was what I expected. Small customs area and 2
old X-ray machines for your luggage. Customs was good, they only opened one tote
(out of six) and did not have any problems with what we were bringing into their country.
So that was the start of our journey. We needed to head to Todos Santos, as this is the town where we would be working. We squished 8 people ( 9 if you count our driver),a huge wooden box, ( carrying the autoclave) our 7 totes and all of our hiking bags and off we went. Now Todos Santos is not far in Kilometers, however it is a 8 hour trip, as all the roads are winding and very steep. The Guatemalan’s are very aggressive drivers, there were a few times that I thought we may go over the mountain’s edge! We arrived at night and was met by veterinarian (who is a part of Vets Without Borders) and she showed us to our hotel. The conditions are poor, our hotel is more like a hostel. There were 3 double beds, with futon mattress on plywood and one old wickety desk, covered with cement walls. Very little bugs here, and have not seen any bed bugs, so it could be worse. Our shower is electric, and does not get warm, let alone hot, so we are definitely getting cold showers. We get up each morning at 6:30 am and head to a house where these ladies feed us breakfast. They also bring lunch to us and we return back to their house for dinner. The food has been pretty delicious, chicken, beef and banana pancakes, mmmm. We head over to the auditorium for a start to the day.
After a cold night, we waited patiently for good Guatemalan coffe before saying our first words
People walk for miles to get their pets vaccinated, or spayed and neutered. For the most part these owners love their pets, and the pets love their owners. Their conditions are poor, under-weight, infested in fleas and filthy. Vaccines go on all day and we do surgeries in the morning so they are awake to go home at 5 when we close the doors till the next day. We definitely have language barrier as they speak two languages, Spanish and MAM. . The surgeries are tricky as there is only limited drugs for anesthetic and no oxygen, but everything has been going well. I am excited to say we have spayed and neutered 52 dogs at this point and vaccinated 273 dogs and cats. We do have one more day of vaccines and surgeries tomorrow, but then ending Saturday with inventory for Vets Without Borders trip in 2014. The trip has been a amazing experience so far.
Kids love their pets
By Sonia March 11, 2013 6:54 am
Written by Fabienne
We have finally been able do a preliminary smartphone field test of the poultry raising app with a sub-sample of 8 PAHWs!
Our initial aim is to determine whether smartphone-based knowledge mobilization can help build PAHWs’ capacity in animal health. If
successful, this method will contribute to sustainability and security of our overall objectives in Laos, which are to improve livestock-based food security, income and social capital. The current app is focused on best practices in poultryraising and covers topics such as ‘Selection & Reproduction’, ‘Nutrition & Feeding’ and ‘Housing’. With lots of photographs, ‘how-to’ videos, and easy to follow text, it is catching the PAHWs’ interest and offers them a quick resource to important information.
But while cellular phones are widespread in Laos, many of the PAHWs have never used a smartphone before. Project team member and
smartphone app expert Bounlerth from FoA did an excellent job guiding the PAHWsthrough the basics such as how to turn on and off the phone, how to swipe from one screen to the next and how to find all the information in the app. Everyone was eager to figure it out and caught on really quickly! Following this introduction, the 8 PAHWs got to test their app for one week, at the end of which they reported back to us on how easy it was for them to use the phone, the app and what they liked or didn’t like about the app and the information it provided. We have been very encouraged to hear that none of the PAHWs had a problem using the phone or the app itself!
So what is next? The team will make some final adjustments, download the app to all the smartphones and ensure their accurate performance… and then… then we are ready to launch the app and release it to all the PAHWs in our project! How exciting is that?!