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Veterinary medicine is the field to do the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injury related to birds and animals. It also includes surgery, radiology and oncology (cancer treatment). As an agricultural country, veterinary medicine is a popular course for higher studies among Nepali students.
After the Secondary Education Examinations (SEE), a student can directly take the CTEVT-offered veterinary medicine courses such as an 18-month pre-diploma and a three-year diploma. Completing these courses make the students associate technicians and technicians, respectively. Collectively, they are also known as veterinary nurses in most countries. Then, there is a five-year graduation program, after which the graduates become veterinary doctors.
Despite the availability of such courses, the field is not developed well in Nepal. Firstly, the scope of their work is not clear. The government has not finalized what these technical practitioners can and cannot do. But, this is not only the government that is at fault; even practitioners are to blame.
The government negligence
As the government has not demarcated the scope of veterinary medicine graduates, those who have completed their five-year graduation and become veterinary doctors think the country has made a joke of their time and effort to be veterinary doctors.
According to international standards, unless one is a doctor who has completed their five years of graduation, they are not allowed to perform any surgeries or surgical procedures using cancer drugs (chemotherapy), handling ultrasound machines, prescribing medicines, x-rays and postmortem except for poultry. However, without any hesitation, all these procedures are being performed by associate technicians and technicians in Nepal.
The very negligence of the Nepal government has created a dilemma in the veterinary field. Consequently, even junior technicals get ready to perform complicated surgeries in Nepal.
In some places, the wound is sewn up with normal needles and thread used for sewing clothes. In order to perform surgery, one must have extensive knowledge of bleeding control methods, anatomical structures, fracture types, suture types, physiology, wound healing techniques, and suture techniques. However, performing surgery without any basic knowledge is equivalent to playing with the animal’s life. It develops a negative image of veterinary medicine in society.
Moreover, the technicians affiliated with various animal welfare associations also are found using cancer medicine (chemotherapy) called vincristine without any protection in dogs who are suffering from uterine cancer.
They do not take dogs to clinics for chemotherapy and just perform it on busy city roads, which is dangerous. Performing surgery without any safety measures is dangerous as the medicine used in that chemotherapy is radioactive.
Radiations of this drug are found in the urine and faeces of dogs for three days and if anyone gets into contact with the dog’s faeces and urine, one is prone to infertility, anaemia, and various other diseases.
Ideally, the roles and responsibilities of both associate technicians and technicians are to extend skills and knowledge of veterinary medicine to the livestock farming communities in order to contribute to community development as well as entrepreneurship development.
The right roles
Moreover, they are responsible to provide suggestions about animal nutrition and fodder production to the livestock farmers, to diagnose/treat/manage diseases/disorders of livestock and poultry as well as to provide disease treatment/management services to the livestock farming communities to handle simple surgical cases along with simple gynaecological cases and cases of obstetrics.
Work such as surgical procedures, use of cancer drugs (chemotherapy), handling of ultrasound machines, prescribing medicines, x-rays and postmortem except poultry is not allowed to perform. Concerned government authorities looking after veterinary medicine in Nepal need to pay attention to these issues.
In Nepal’s neighboring country India, the field of work of the technician has been divided. The technician has the right to work on health examination, reproduction, castration, primary medicine treatment, vaccine, prevention of infertility et cetera. They are restricted from doing surgery and using cancer drugs. They also have a regulatory body for para-vet professionals. Perhaps Nepal can learn from India.
Non-regulation of veterinary technicians by the government
But, not only the government, but veterinary medicine technicians and other stakeholders also deserve blame for this. There is no professional veterinary medicine council in Nepal and there is no regulatory body to regulate the work of veterinary technicians (para-vets).
From time to time, voices are raised in small numbers that there should be an executive council for para-vets, but it has not been implemented.
There is a licensing exam for veterinary doctors but not for vet technicians, but they work in the same way as veterinary doctors and perform any surgical procedures and other medical procedures, which are unlawful activities.
Moreover, there are dirty jokes and discrimination against the veterinary medicine profession. Law should be made to address such problems.