A team from the Makerere College of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB) has rejected a proposal to have some categories of people exempted from engaging in veterinary practice without a licence.
Led by Prof. Frank Norbert Mwiine, the College Principal, the educationists said allowing exemptions will perpetuate abuse of veterinary medicine and practice.
This, they said while appearing before the Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries on Wednesday, 12 July 2023 to present their views on the Veterinary Practitioners Bill, 2023.
Clause 24 of the bill allows the minister, upon the advice of the council to exempt any person or category of persons from the requirements of registration or licensing especially those who offer minor veterinary services such as bloodless castration, bloodless dehorning, tailing of a lamb, earmarking of an animal and any other minor treatment intended to relieve pain in an animal.
This clause, according to the experts from Makerere, has great potential to create a loophole for abuse.
“Nobody should be exempted to engage in veterinary practice without a license,” Prof. Mwiine said.
Mwiine said such exemptions will lead to abuse of veterinary medicine such as acaricides and antibiotics leading to rampant antimicrobial and tick resistance and unprofessional handling of animals.
“A person who is exempt cannot be held accountable for any professional misconduct,” he said.
The team is also opposed to a proposal to exempt veterinary practitioners in public offices from being licensed under clause 16 of the bill.
“The exemption of public practitioners is not called for…This is a matter of integrity and should have no exceptions otherwise you would then exempt us all including academia, research and other public officers,” Mwiine said.
Nakaseke North County Member of Parliament, Hon. Enock Nyongore however, justified the need to exempt some categories of people especially the ‘village veterinary teams’ that he said, is playing the role of the ‘absentee’ and ‘few’ veterinary surgeons.
“I am representing typical communities that have never seen a professional veterinary doctor to even rescue a goat that has birth complications. But I have seen local people help goats to give birth. If we don’t allow these exemptions, then it will be problematic because professionals do not come on time,” Nyongore said.
The Committee Chairperson, Hon. Janet Okori-Moe also appreciated the role of the village veterinary teams saying asking them to acquire a practicing license would be too much of a burden to the farmers.
“Even us MPs struggle with our poultry and piggery with no access to a veterinary officer yet we have people in the villages who have been managing these challenges with their indigenous knowledge,” Okori-Moe said.
Clause 6 of the bill provides qualifications for registration and licensing of a veterinary surgeon which is capped at a degree in veterinary medicine from a university recognized by the Uganda Veterinary Council.