Overview of participants from Madagascar (left) and Lesotho (right). Picture (c) P. Bastiaensen (oie) 2017.
The differences between the types of (para) veterinary training in the region, where these exist, registration requirements by VSBs, where these exist, has repeatedly been pinpointed as the problem to solve to foster better mobility of veterinary professionals across the region; in terms of the SADC regional integration agenda, this is long overdue. Approaches such as mutual recognition agreements (MRA) towards harmonisation of training across the region and subsequent (automatic) registration by veterinary councils or boards in other member countries of the same region, were the focus of a three day stakeholder workshop organised in Johannesburg, South Africa from November 14 – 16, 2017.
Hosted jointly by the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), representatives from all but one of the 15 Member Countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the SADC Secretariat, sat down to review what has been achieved since the first initiative bringing together veterinary schools (veterinary educational establishments) and veterinary councils (veterinary statutory bodies) of the Southern Africa region, in Arusha, Tanzania in September 2009. Also, what could be done in the region to achieve the following goal: establish a network of VSBs in the SADC region and start “Working towards mutual recognition of veterinary professionals in the SADC region”, the theme of the meeting.
The 45 participants were drawn from the Member States’ Veterinary Statutory Bodies, where these exist, if not from the government departments that register veterinarians and/or veterinary para-professionals (animal health technicians, meat inspectors, nurses, veterinary laboratory technicians, …). In the room, also representation from the veterinary authority of the host country (Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, DAFF), representation from the East African Community (EAC) Member States which have made good progress as of late in terms of promoting and regulating mutual recognition of veterinary professionals across the 6-country block, representation from the Eastern and Southern African Veterinary Educational Establishments (ESAVEE) network, and representation from the African Veterinary Technicians Association (AVTA).
Opening remarks were delivered by Dr Botlhe Michael Modisane, OIE Delegate of South Africa and current President of the OIE World Assembly of Delegates, on behalf of H.E. Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) of the Republic of South Africa, preceded by remarks from the OIE Representative for Southern Africa, Dr Moetapele Letshwenyo and the Chairperson of the South African Veterinary Council, Dr Clive Marwick.
The role of a Veterinary Statutory Body (VSB) is to oversee the quality and competence of veterinarians in a country. A competent Veterinary Statutory Body, autonomous from any political or commercial interests, can ensure the excellence of the veterinary profession through appropriately licensing or registering veterinary professionals, and providing minimum standards for (initial and continuing) education and professional conduct. The functional and legislative framework within which a Veterinary Statutory Body exercises its regulatory capacity is defined in Article 3.2.12 of the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code.
Over the course of the meeting, participants covered the basic three requirements for the quality of VSBs, as defined by the OIE, i.e. registration and licensing of veterinarians and veterinary para-professionals, accreditation or recognition of diplomas and the enforcement of compliance through codes of conduct and corrective measures. It further covered OIE standards and guidelines, including the day-one-competencies and the core curriculum recommendations, the past recommendations and resolutions taken in Africa and at OIE international conferences, the twinning agreement between the VSBs of South Africa and Tanzania, the EAC Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) for veterinary professionals, the specific issue of veterinary para-professionals, issues of continuous professional development (CPD) and applicable IT systems to manage VSBs.
Speaking : Dr Rachel Madekurozwa, Registrar, Council of Veterinary Surgeons of Zimbabwe (CVSZ).
The meeting concluded with a few, but pertinent action points which included the establishment of an (electronic, for the time being) Forum of VSB’s in Southern Africa, the review of applicable legislation and regulations in light of the OIE Day-One competencies and OIE Model core curriculum to attain the objective of having autonomous veterinary statutory bodies in every SADC country in the foreseeable future, and share procedures, policies, reports and all other applicable information and best practices on Day-One competencies used in countries, rules for veterinary and veterinary para-professionals which include Scopes of Practice and minimum standards for facilities (registration, authorisation), minimum standards of training, criteria for the evaluation of training institutions and Continued Professional Development (CPD).
A working group was established to work on harmonisation of Day One skills [what to train towards].
The work group consists of the Registrars of Botswana, Madagascar, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe and the chairperson is Prof Vinny Naidoo, chairperson of the SAVC’s Standards Committee.
The South African Veterinary Council has been assigned the role of champion to drive this process and will ensure that positive interventions take place.
The proceedings of the meeting will be published in the Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research in 2018.
The event was made possible by the support of the OIE using funds from the European Union (European Parliament and European Commission), with the technical and logistical support of the Secretariat of the SAVC in Pretoria.
All pictures © P. Bastiaensen (oie) 2017, unless mentioned otherwise.