Get to know our Vet Margot!

As my time in Lao PDR as Communications Intern ends, I pass on the blogging-torch to my friend and colleague, Margot. You may have seen Margot in a picture or two from some earlier blog posts but now is your chance to get to know her a little bit better!

Margot is a French veterinarian and epidemiologist who obtained her DVM in Lyon and her MSc in Animal Health and Epidemiosurveillance in Southern Countries (SAEPS) at the Centre for International Cooperation in Agricultural Research and Development (CIRAD), Montpellier. Before coming to Laos she worked in Wallis and Futuna, two very small islands in the Pacific ocean, focusing her work on pigs whose population exceeds the number of people living there!

Margot tending to an elephant in Thailand
As a new recruit of Vets without Borders, she is working to strengthen animal healthcare services and community health in Xaythany District, and hopes it will help increase the well-being of these communities. She made the most of her student years by working as an intern in England, Spain, Guadeloupe, Madagascar, Mali, Philippines and Thailand, discovering the development side of veterinary work. Yet her will to discover the world does not necessarily fit her passion for sport… Margot, travelling light? Never! She is always carrying around her sports gear be it a kite surf, rock-climbing shoes or lately a slackline.
Team Picture! Left to right: Kham, Chantha, Margot, Sithsavath, Kristen, Lampheuy, Malavanh, Daovy and Khao.
Many thanks and best of luck to Margot and the rest of the Vets without Borders team as they continue their great work in Lao PDR!


For more information on Vets without Borders or to make a contribution to our cause, please visit our website:




An App-etite for Innovation!

Smartphones have changed the way we access, use and share information. “Apps” are a huge part of this technological revolution. It seems like nowadays you can find an app for pretty much anything- games, cooking classes, sports updates, language lessons, music, photography, gardening and everything  in between. Well, we’re not about to be left behind as technology thrusts the world forward! Vets without Borders, LifeLearn and the International Development and Research Centre teamed up to develop an app that will help PAHWs improve smallholder poultry management in rural Laos.

Selection and Reproduction (L), Nutrition and Feeding (C) and Housing (R)

The app was designed to be simple and user-friendly. Each section has tons of pictures, video and audio to make the app more interactive and interesting for farmers and PAHWs. Users can tap the screen with their finger to move through different sections and scroll up or down to see everything on the page. The app is a gateway to tons of important information on:

1. Selection and Reproduction

  • Flock Management
  • Hatching Management
  • Brooding Management
  • Parent-Stock Keeping

2. Nutrition and Feeding

  • Benefits of Good Nutrition
  • Improving Feed Quality (Energy, Protein, Vitamins and Minerals)
  • Improving Feed Practices


  • Benefits of Good Housing
  • Types of Housing
  • Housing Equipment

So how can the Poultry App be used in real life?

Pretend you’re a PAHW. You get a call from a farmer in your village. She’s worried because none of the eggs her hen lays are hatching. There are many reasons why this could happen so you meet her at her farm to assess the situation. She shows you into the chicken coop and points to eggs. You feel one of the eggs and notice that it’s soft. She also mentions that her chickens suffer from leg lameness. You know from your experience as a farmer and a PAHW that good feed quality is important for strong bones and shells. So you reach for your smartphone and tap the Poultry App. From the menu you select “Nutrition and Feeding”, then “Improving Feed Quality”. You check each tab and until you land on “Mineral Content”. Aha! The app tells you that chickens need minerals to develop strong bones, and to produce hard shells around the eggs. The app also gives you examples of mineral sources that you can use as ingredients in poultry feed. You share this information with the farmer using the pictures from the app. Now she knows that she can use her kitchen scraps to feed her chickens and make them healthier! 

Want to improve poultry management for rural smallholder farms in Laos? There’s an app for that!


For more information on Vets without Borders or to make a contribution to our cause, please visit our website:



PAHWs get tech-savvy with smartphones and new app!

Vets without Borders was lucky enough to have Vicky, a representative from LifeLearn, come all the way from Canada to Paksapmei to teach us and the PAHWs about the smartphone app they developed with the International Development and Research Centre (IDRC).

Vicky (right) ready to share her knowledge on mobile learning and apps with VWB team and PAWHs.

The purpose of this new app is to improve poultry management for smallholder farmers in the project villages of Xanthany District, central Laos. The app will provide PAWHs with information on poultry housing, reproduction and selection, nutrition and brooding using text, photos and videos. With access to these resources, PAWHs can teach farmers in their village about proper poultry management; knowledge which will hopefully contribute to the enhancement of their production and livelihood.

Here is a sneak peak of our two-day training session!

PAHWs get acquainted with their new smartphones and learn how to use the poultry management app!

More about the app, smartphones and PAHWs coming soon!






For more information on Vets without Borders or to make a contribution to our cause, please visit our website:




Lights, Camera, Action!

Gordon and Judy are Canadian videographers producing a film to highlight the current Vets without Borders projects in Laos. This dynamic husband-wife team has joined us in the field to get some exciting footage of the PAHWs in action! On the final day of filming, we arranged individual interviews with a few PAWHs so that Gordon and Judy could capture their personal experiences with the project and impact that it has had on their community.

Arriving in Dounien Village for PAHW interviews.

Daovy, Margot, Gordon, Judy and I traveled to Dounien, one of the eleven villages participating in the project. Here we were greeted by two PAHWs, Khamla and Phonetip. After a brief tour of this charming village we settled into a quiet spot to begin the interviews. Khamla and Phonetip gathered a few plastic chairs from the local church as Gordon and Judy set up the camera, microphones and reflector.

Interview with Khamla
Gordon and Judy get ready for the interview with Khamla.

The PAHWs were admittedly nervous. They had never done anything like this before and the idea of being in the spotlight was intimidating. Daovy, our Project Co-ordinator, lead the interviews. She asked each PAWH a series of five questions allowing them to explain and elaborate their answers before translating them into English so that the rest of us could understand.

In Lao, the word “daovy” means star and that’s exactly what she is! Watching her translate is impressive to say the least. She has this unique ability to seamlessly switch between languages and communicate a message without losing context, emotion or even a joke. It’s a talent that never ceases to amaze me!

Daovy interviews Phonetip about his experience as a PAHW.

Khalma and Phonetip explained that they were motivated to become PAHWs by their desire to improve the health of animals and people in their community. Khamla said that he was proud of his new responsibilities because he knows that keeping animals healthy helps improve the livelihood of the entire village. Phonetip explained that he was happy to have learned new things about animal health, farm management and disease prevention. The interviews only lasted a few minutes but in that short time I started to understand what it really means to be a Primary Animal Health Worker.

Phonetip (front right) and Khamla (back center) in action during vaccination training.

Now that Gordon and Judy have collected all of this awesome footage in the field, the tedious editing process begins. Somehow they will to work their magic to turn hours of filming into a short three minute clip!

Stay tuned for the official release of the video. But for now, that’s a wrap!





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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.




For more information on Vets without Borders or to make a contribution to our cause, please visit our website:




[1] Merck (2012). Transmission, epidemiology, and Pathogenesis. Overview of Hemorrhagic Septcemia. Retrieved on May 16, 2013 from /overview_of_ hemorrhagic_septicemia.html