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.
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.
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.
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