PAHWs for Applause: Vaccination Campaign off to Successful Start

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 [1]. Vaccination is the best way to protect cattle and prevent death from this disease. That’s why our team from Vets without Borders and NUOL 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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[1] Merck (2012). Transmission, epidemiology, and Pathogenesis. Overview of Hemorrhagic Septcemia. Retrieved on May 16, 2013 from /overview_of_ hemorrhagic_septicemia.html


Mobilization for Vaccination Education

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!