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Panorama DossierVeterinary workforce development

Dossier Posted on 2023-02-22 15:46:27

Veterinary workforce development

Rural services for livelihoods and food security


Sonia Fèvre (1) & David Sherman (1)*

(1) Capacity Building Department, World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).

* Corresponding author: D. Sherman.

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Through its Programme for Workforce Development, WOAH supports its Members to develop appropriate staffing solutions for their Veterinary Services that reflect country conditions. This support includes workforce assessment and the creation of legal, regulatory and educational frameworks that allow flexibility in staffing decisions while maintaining quality performance.
Veterinarians are the most highly trained and versatile members of the veterinary workforce. As such, Veterinary Services (VS) depend on veterinarians to fulfill their various mandates throughout the veterinary domain. However, many countries lack the financial resources, training capacity and economic opportunities to produce and deploy sufficient veterinarians. Veterinary paraprofessionals (VPPs) with more limited but appropriate training can therefore be essential to the overall veterinary workforce, and the development, recognition and deployment of different cadres of VPPs can be a cost-effective way for countries to strengthen their national VS workforce in the public and private sectors.

Through the PVS Pathway, which includes the Programme for Workforce Development, the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH, founded as OIE) supports its Members to develop appropriate staffing solutions for their VS that reflect the country conditions [1].

This begins with a workforce assessment exercise to identify service gaps. The assessment then serves as the basis for: i) workforce planning and development that explores diverse solutions to staffing, while upholding the need to maintain standards that guarantee the quality of work performed and the preservation of public safety; and ii) consideration of the enabling environment needed to provide clear legal status, comprehensive regulation, appropriate training and effective integration of all recognised categories of veterinary personnel, including VPPs and, where appropriate, community animal health workers (CAHWs).

Such a diversified veterinary workforce can effectively deliver important public good functions such as animal and zoonotic disease control and food safety as well as improving access to last-mile delivery of clinical and preventive services to female and male animal owners, particularly in underserved areas and populations. Noting that livestock supports the livelihoods and food security of almost 1.3 billion people [2], improved access to services means reduced risks of livestock mortality and improved productivity, which creates opportunities for enhanced livelihoods, greater food security and improved nutrition for livestock owners, their families and communities. Diversifying the veterinary workforce can also help to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals, by creating additional employment opportunities in the livestock sector in rural areas and by enhancing prospects for the employment of women who are often responsible for the care of animals. As such, the strengthening of the veterinary services workforce and its benefits to rural communities contributes to the promotion of sustainable development outcomes.

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