PAHWs at the forefront

This month has seen the relaunch of the successful Livestock Clinics in 5 villages in Houychiem. Combining in-depth practical training with community outreach, the clinics are a way to give PAHWs village-based training whilst sensitising farmers to the importance of livestock vaccination, parasite burdens, and general farm management.

Using learner-centred approaches, the team encourages each PAHW to do a clinical exam, assess the situation of each animal and make a decision on appropriate treatment.  The PAHWs are thus building up their problem-solving skills during real case examples.   This week the clinics have focused on blackleg vaccination and parasite treatment.

The clinics were alsoa great opportunity to share knowledge about traditional treatments, such as using lemon for eye infections.   Check out some of the pictures here!

Livestock clinic team in Napok
Learning to assess body weight
Calculating drug dosage

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!



Rabies campaign 2012

Between November 23 to December 7, 2012, 1,393 dogs, 121 cats and 1 monkey were vaccinated against rabies.  According to the dog count provided, this means we vaccinated 75% of the dog population, in line with the 70% recommended for mass rabies vaccination campaigns.

Thanks to the team from NUOL, volunteer students, partners and the PAHWs for all their hard work!  And thanks to  photographers Ernest Goh, Chung Hua Siong and Ore Huiying for their wonderful photos!  We are excited that the Lao government is developing a Rabies Eradication Strategy and will be happy to share information from our campaign to support this initiative.

Rabies vaccination campaign. Top, Senoudom village. Bottom, Veunten village. Photography by Ore Huiying/ The Animal Book Co.

Gearing up for the 2nd rabies campaign

Life may seem simple in a village, but the yearly calendar is a considered sequence of activities related to farming, schooling, festivals and other types of work. It is important to make sure that activities run through the VEVEP project tie in carefully with communities’ occupations and priorities.

This year we decided to hold the rabies campaign a little later after World Rabies Day.  We are delighted to hear that the District Agriculture and Forestry Office is also including rabies vaccination as part of their National Vaccination Day to be held in mid November.

Our new Veterinarian and Livelihoods Officer, Dr Fabienne Uehlinger, is working closely with the team at Faculty of Agriculture, National University of Laos, to prepare for the campaign. Planning involves steps like writing to all village chiefs about the campaign, mobilising Primary Animal Health workers (PAHWs) to provide estimated dog counts for each village, sourcing adequate doses of vaccine, and holding refresher trainings with all participating members to review procedures and feel comfortable before the event.

A successful clinic involves coordinated efforts between all team members to vaccinate the dogs, provide vaccination certificates, ask dog owners to complete a simple knowledge survey, and provide important information to all dog owners about bite prevention and treatment and rabies prevention.  The campaign will start on 24th November – and we hope to reach even more dogs than last year!

(Image from WHO, WSPA, World Rabies Day poster in Lao)



Poultry vaccination for improved chickens

This month the Laos Village Ecohealth team and our Primary Animal Health Workers (PAHWs) have been working hard to ensure new chicks and adults chickens receive their vaccinations of Newcastle disease and Infectious bronchitis. With current cold spells it is all the more important to ensure that not only are poultry being vaccinated, but also adequately fed and housed.

On my recent field visits with the team it was impressive to see the PAHWs work hard to create an efficient vaccination system. Anne, Lampheuy and Malavanh have been preparing a comprehensive training program for PAHWs and for the participants of VWB’s poultry project, which we launched last year.

The chicks you can see in the photos include improved breed yellow chickens. The team is using action research to determine the productivity and resilience of the new breed, encouraging families to keep some eggs for household consumption, as well as gaining income from future bird sales.

Poultry project participants, Hadviengkham village
PAHW and Ecohealth mentor vaccinate chickens, Thachampa village