In South Africa we have different poultry veterinary sectors, namely the public veterinary services (government) and private veterinary sector. Both of these sectors play a significant role in the country’s biggest and important sector in animal production, poultry.
There have been concerns raised by the poultry national veterinary service, consumer groups, poultry producer groups that a gap of communication or lack of relationship between the public and private still exist. Due to such, many feel that the food safety, animal health and welfare might have been compromised. As a result the entire veterinary service may become if not already, weaker and smaller.
Since the establishment of Poultry Disease Management Agency (PDMA) by the South African Poultry Association (SAPA), PDMA has taken upon itself the initiative role of developing a partnership relationship between the Public and Private sectors to combat poultry diseases, through the following:
- Training state veterinarians
- Hosting disease contact sessions for both state and private veterinarians
- Influencing government’s disease prevention policies and protocols with the involvement of both sectors etc.
In a meeting which was recently held between PDMA, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veterinarians officials, Private Veterinarians and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) at the AVI Africa 2014. It was discuss that the lacking and poorly developed monitoring and delivery of commercialised tasks still exist, which are namely:
- Protection of public health, food or animal inspection,
- Checking the health and certificates of imported and exported animals or products of animal origin
- Animal products or animals posing a risk of spreading animal diseases etc. which fairly undermines the service of the public interest.
Because of the mentioned issues surrounding the partnership relationship. I propose that a clear compartmentalisation plan must be drafted and put into place by looking at the functions of both sectors and formally linking them together which are:-
Functions of Public Veterinary Service:
- Enforcement/ Control;
- Policy Planning;
- Policy Implementation;
- Policy and legislative framework;
- Quarantine (border and inland);
- Surveillance of main contagious diseases;
- Accreditation of drugs, quality control, destruction;
- Disease data systems (Animal Resource Data and Information Systems)
- Oversight of food safety, import and export inspection and certification according to international standards
- Accreditation of personnel;
Functions of Private Veterinary Service:
- To deliver preventive, curative and promotive services that largely benefit individual animals and their owners, i.e. to deliver private goods and services;
- Parasitic disease control;
- Animal Welfare;
- Meat Retail sales;
- Production diseases;
- Clinical veterinary services;
- Marketing of livestock products;
- meat processing;
Then develop a clear concept of compartmentalisation of the two sectors for it to work by implementing the following steps:
- The institution of a special transition team to plan and oversee the implementation of any restructuring process has been found useful;
- This team should be guided by an advisory council with stakeholder representatives including members appointed from the national veterinary service, the national treasury, the pharmaceutical industry, livestock producer groups and consumer groups and advice should be sought from countries that have successfully gone through a similar transition process;
- Determining which tasks should be commercialised;
- Standardise and compartmentalisation of bio-security as a disease preventative method;
- Safe trade based on scientific risk analysis;
- Deliver high quality and effective services collectively;
- Maintaining public support and funding;
- Providing transparent reports to international bodies (OIE) and neighbouring countries collectively.
An overall objective of restructuring of veterinary services should be to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of animal health care delivery and, consequently disease free poultry productivity, safeguard public health, and contribute to national development. The end result should be a public veterinary service better able to carry out its redefined responsibilities, a functioning private sector and the necessary supporting personnel and infrastructure able to contribute to the overall objective.