By Kamau Mwangi
Veterinarians are among the professionals that make a holistic influence in the communities they serve.
Though many regard us as just animal doctors/physicians, our influence surpasses the animals that we treat or take care of.
In the backdrop of any veterinary practice, is a melee of activities which change and influence lives of peoples in a family, a society, an entire community and nations at large.
I will try to bring out several cases that show the great influence that veterinarians through their professional work of caring and treating animals, bring people together to help societies and nations grow.
The death of the northern white rhino
When the last male northern white rhino died, global media outlets were awash with messages that eulogized a giant animal whose era on earth had come to an end. The mere thought and fact that we are the last generation probably to see and have lived with northern white rhinos caused gloom all over the world.
The northern white rhino kept Kenya and Ol Pejeta conservancy in the maps as the last sanctuary of this species of animals.
Behind the scenes, when the animal was still alive, were teams of veterinarians trying to come up with reproductive technologies that hoped to restore this species of animals and its female counterparts back into active productiveness.
Whenever the animal fell sick or appeared sickly, all kept their fingers crossed hoping that veterinarians will restore the animal back to good health.
When the animal finally succumbed to old age and disease, what seemed like the last straw of hope was now broken and gone. Its glory and majesty were lost too.
All that remains is a ray of hope that veterinarians and other scientists will come up with ways or means that will make the last two surviving females of this species reproduce and possibly save mankind from the shame of being the ones who orchestrated the extinction of this species of animals.
A shove to pursue Veterinary Medicine
When a veterinarian is called into a homestead to treat or attend to a sick animal, he/she is looked up to as the one who’ll spell doom or hope to the life of that animal which is either the source of livelihood or joy to the family.
This brings me to what influenced me to study Veterinary Medicine. In January 2010 a lovely heifer that my father owned gave birth for the first time but developed complications during and after delivery. I later came to realize that it was a case of breech presentation of the calf which was followed by uterine prolapse.
We called one of the village veterinarians to assist in calf delivery which he did and left. Later on, the mother had a uterine prolapse but when we called the vet he refused to come and attend to her and only advised us to confine and restrain the cow, in a standing position for the entire night. He mentioned that he would come the following day.
We did as per the advice and all of us in the family retired to sleep. At night, village dogs found the cow that we had restrained with a protruding mass of meat, which they feasted on. This resulted into the animal bleeding to death that night.
A sad and bitter mood engulfed everyone in the family. This prompted me to pursue veterinary science as a course, so that history does not repeat itself in future.
Animals bring together African communities
In some communities in Africa what brings people together are activities that revolve around their animals, either on market day or at a political rally. Through my traverses across the country as a veterinarian, with organizations such as World Animal Protection, in their campaigns, on disaster management and rabies vaccinations, I’ve observed to that these activities bring together a society and communities.
When it is the day that their cows, goats, sheep, donkeys or even camels are to be vaccinated, it also serves as the day when the area local authority be it chiefs or politicians get an opportunity to address their people on local matters.
It is also the day these communities come together to repair or participate in community building projects like repairing or construction of community structures like cattle dips or cattle holding areas.
Some projects like dog vaccinations also serve as opportunities for communities to teach their children the sense of responsibility and ownership; thus, delegating duties like taking dogs to vaccination points to young boys. This inculcates the virtue of caring and taking responsibility in the well-being of their family possessions.
Our kind actions matter too
As veterinarians, the simple acts we do of caring, treating and teaching people on how to look after their animals causes a snowball effect in the backdrop that grows and molds a family all the way up to the nation.