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LUANAR students get a jab from vet specialists

By Staff Writer

Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) students in Doctor of Veterinary Medicine have benefitted from a two week international animal welfare training facilitated by Vets United (WTG) from Germany, Lilongwe Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (LSPCA) and the Department of Animal Health and Livestock Development (DAHLD).

The pioneer first year beneficiary students include 11 males and 3 females who enrolled for the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program in 2014 that is to run for five year period. When qualified, they will be accredited by the Board of the Veterinary Surgeons of Malawi and therefore form part of the veterinary professional fraternity.

Speaking at the launch of the program Patsani Kumambala, LUANAR’S Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture said the training has come at the right time to strengthen capacity among students in animal welfare issues. Kumambala added that it was very imperative for LUANAR as an institution of higher learning to partner with other players as the program is still in its infancy stage. As such collaboration with other stakeholders will help students to acquire hands on experience on matters related to veterinary medicine.

The introduction of the program comes at a time when more animal science specialists are on demand to beef up the capacity gaps in the civil service, private sector, research and academic institutions. This will strengthen their role in animal welfare and veterinary sciences. Furthermore, it will also address issue related to public health in case of rabies control among other things.

A Vets United team that travelled all the way from German led by Ruprecht Herbst said during a tour of the animal farm that it was great to come to Malawi and spare time to train the first year students. He added that Vets United-WTG is planning to come back to Malawi next year March and continue from where they have left and ensure the students get extra hands on experience in other animal welfare issues.

LSPCA and LUANAR staff also equipped the students in rabies control, veterinary ethics, dog population management, fundamentals of veterinary practice in domesticated animals among many other areas of specialization.

This was done through a combination of both theory and practical sessions including laboratory experiences to allow the students gain hands on experience on a wider aspect of their veterinary practices.

LSCPA surgical clinic was also used to conduct other sessions during the training. The students were also involved in various community works to sharpen their skills so they pass their acquired expertise to local populace to whom they are trained to serve.

Chief Animal Health Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture Julius Chulu said, “the animal health industry is now on high demand; it has now grown and need more well trained professionals to meet the industry demands. As a country we had no veterinary school at tertiary level and students have been travelling to other countries like Zambia and Australia to get such kind of training,” said Chulu in an interview on the sidelines of the training.

Project Manager for WTG Dr. Ruprecht Herbst said the training will uplift the profile of animal welfare issues for both students and various institutions they will work for in the future.

LSPCA Program Director Richard Ssuna, reiterated the need to strengthen the collaboration between LSPCA and the LUANAR beyond the training of training of the students but to also collaborate on the establishing of Veterinary Training Hospital in Lilongwe at the proposed National Animal Welfare Centre.

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Sterlising the rabies poison in dogs’ bite

By Staff Writer

In February this year a tragic incidence occurred when Mwatitha Jickson (deceased) was mauled by six stray dogs on her way to sought medical services at a nearby clinic, where she wanted to access vaccine for her third born child.

The incident happened in Chilota Village in Traditional Authority Njewa close to old airport along the Lilongwe – Kasiya dusty road. The husband Samuel Jickson told the media while in hospital that her wife was attacked by a pack of six stray dogs whose owner has not been identified to date. She was only rescued from the vicious and ruthless dogs by a bicycle taxi operator, who upon hearing calls for help rushed to the scene to aid her release.

The child sustained wounds in various parts of the body, but they were immediately treated upon arrival at Kamuzu Central Hospital. Medical specialists also offered Rabies post exposure prophylaxis [anti – rabies] drugs and reports indicated that there was improvement but sadly the mother died upon arrival at the medical facility.

In the wake of such developments and many other human threatening cases the Department of Animal Health and Livestock Development and Lilongwe Society for the Protection and Care of Animal (LSPCA) has been offering veterinary related services that include rabies vaccination, free spay and neuter (sterilizations) to reduce stray dog population in the city.

“We have been conducting stray dog population management program which is aimed at sterilizing, rabies vaccination to increase the number of vaccinated dogs in Lilongwe while at the same time reducing the number of unwanted puppy births. After sterilization and vaccination the dogs are marked using an environmentally friendly paint for easy identification,” says a joint stray dog population management program statement by LSPCA and the Department of Animal Health and Livestock Development.

Richard Ssuna, LSPCA Program Director says in a separate interview that the annual rabies vaccination intervention has seen over 35,000 dogs and surgically sterilised over 5,000 of them. He adds that close to MK150m has been invested in only the free community sterilisation clinics the last three years.

In February this year LSPCA commemorated the World Spay Day with the de-worming, rabies vaccination and surgical sterilisation of over 300 dogs in Area 23 in Lilongwe. The German based Welttierschutzgeselleschaft (WTG) supported the local initiative aimed at addressing canine and feline populations that have exceeded the capacity of local community to properly care for.  

"Sterilizing street dogs and returning them to their territories on the streets allows for a natural reduction in their population over time and leaves the most socialized dogs on the streets. Sterilizing pets prevents them from contributing to the problem of street animal, over population and invariably controls the rabies prevalence in human occupied areas," Ssuna said in reference to the day.

At least 90 percent of human rabies cases worldwide result from domestic dog bites according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Rabies is an infection of the central nervous system with an incubation period of anywhere from one week to almost one year after exposure, resulting typically from a bite from an infected animal.

The actual disease is no laughing matter either. The symptoms can include generalized weakness and flu-like symptoms followed by “anxiety, confusion, agitation delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations” resulting in death. Rabies globally claims 55,000 lives annually with the majority being kids below the age of 15.

Those victims that survive bites from rabid animals have to live with horrific physical and emotional scars that cannot be treated the rest of their lives.

Stray dogs are a serious animal welfare and public health concern as they are a source of uncontrolled breeding and a reservoir of rabies, a deadly disease to humans. As such control of stray dog’s population will greatly reduce the number of rabies prevalence in human occupied areas.

LSPCA plans to sterilize 70 percent of the target community, as such people are being urged to take part in the program and ensure all the dogs are vaccinated. The weekly community outreach are done on Tuesday and Wednesday and the public is being encouraged to bring the dogs at designated sites for instance Area 23 Police Unit ground where diagnosis and treatment is offered free of charge by a team of specialized veterinary experts.

During an evaluation and monitoring session on the progress of the intervention one community leader Davis Safiano Matola in Area 23 said in an interview he received the mobile veterinary services wholeheartedly.

“I must admit that there has been drastic decline in cases of rabies and even stray dogs in my area at the moment. This has come about as a result of continued interventions that are being spearheaded by LSPCA specialised staff offering a wide range of services to the community around here. This has resulted in reduced cases of rabies and stray dogs, which are a thing of the past,” he said in an interview at his home in Area 23 during the evaluation process.

Another resident Keith Sakusa said that there have been changes noticed since the clinics commenced. He added that he was very pleased when the global Spay Day was fully dedicated to residents of Area 23 who brought their dogs and cats to be vaccinated for rabies, sterilised and also screened for other challenges as well.

The other danger said another Area 23 resident, is coming from the pets that are traded along the roads; it is difficult to ascertain whether they are rabies free or not. The fact that LSPCA reaches us here in our community and offer these services is therefore a step in the right direction.

Rabies control is primarily a public good. The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development under Livestock and Animal Health has been mounting weekly anti-rabies campaign from 2004 through 2008 says Julius Chulu, Chief Animal Health Officer and renowned Micro-biologist based at the Central Veterinary laboratory in Lilongwe.

Chulu said from 2009 the period was extended to one month to allow many people to have their domesticated pets vaccinated. During this period all dogs brought to the vaccination centre are administered drugs for free. The event is given prominence through coverage on radio, television, print media including banners and posters that are posted on strategic locations.

“Although the period was extended to one month, the number of dogs vaccinated does not reach the required 100 percent. This is due to inadequate human, physical and financial resources and some owners do not bring their dogs deliberately,” says Chulu in response to a questionnaire.

He added that there is collaboration with LSPCA, the Police and Judiciary across the country to raise the profile on animal welfare through enforcing the Protection of Animal Act. Animal welfare has also being included in the curriculum at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources for the veterinary school. Similar efforts are also being spearheaded as part of studies for pupils learning in primary schools.

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LSPCA Lilongwe Triathlon Slated for 26th April, 2015

Lilongwe Society for the Protection and Care of Animal (LSPCA) in partnership with Bishop Mackenzie Barracudas’ club, will be hosting the second Triathlon on 26 April, 2015. The Triathlon a sporting activity that has three disciplines namely; swimming, cycling and running, is competed by either teams or individuals in a row and are rewarded depending on the team’s performance.

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Proceeds collected will enable LSPCA to continue their pioneering work in ensuring issues related to animal welfare are given the necessary attention they deserve in line with 2014 World Animal Day theme, “Animals Matter.” Furthermore, we will intensify other animal management activities that include Rabies Vaccinations Campaign and the bi-weekly sterilisation clinics that take place in densely populated areas around Lilongwe.


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LSPCA treats livestock and poultry hit by floods

Lilongwe Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (LSPCA) and Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security mass drug administration animal health intervention in three of floods disaster hit southern region districts namely; Balaka, Machinga and Zomba has helped to reduce the burden on farmers, raising hopes that they won’t lose their stock.rsz img 7392

In January and February 2015, the country experienced an exceptionally heavy rainfall, exacerbated by cyclone Chedza. The result was destruction of villages especially those in low lying areas. Animals especially livestock and poultry were not spared from the devastation, especially in the South of the country. The rains left behind a huge number of animal health problems, including pneumonia, wounds, lumpy skin disease, mastitis and foot rot, caused by water-logged soil.

Animal health extension personnel in the affected districts together with LSPCA Project Coordinator, Jenda Kasambara, US based volunteers namely John Fiddler and Kathleen Egan offered animals the preferential treatment when diagnosed with wounds, considered lame, scoured and those that were emaciated. The mobile clinics also give priority to all forms of poultry especially for the deadly viral attacker Newcastle disease.

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"The intervention was timely especially for areas that experienced floods and heavy rains. The type of drugs that were delivered by LSPCA were those in line with diseases that we expected to emerge after the flooding situation such as bacterial and protozoan," said Machinga Agriculture Development Division, Chief Animal Health and Livestock Officer, Taurayi Mlewa in an interview.

Mlewa however added that mobility was a problem as a result of some farmers  being located in more remote areas of the three districts. He cited for instance distances that were close to the Phalombe border and areas close to Lake Chilwa as some of those that posed a challenge to administer the drugs.

The exercise has greatly contributed to improved animal health status that survived the torrential floods that swept crops including livestock injuring some in the process. The occasion also provided the platform for dissemination of information and communication messages on welfare and animal freedom to the small scale livestock farmers and the public at large in the affected areas under Machinga Agriculture Development Division says Kasambara who coordinated the activity in the districts.

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As part of long term collaboration says Mlewa we intend to build this kind of partnerships with local nongovernmental organizations that are working in the field of animal welfare. As you will recall that these services are no longer being offered by government as they were long privatized.

This intervention is therefore greatly welcomed. You will note that it has covered three of our catchment districts except for Mangochi but we appreciate that the drugs will go a long way.

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LSPCA spearheaded wildlife taskforce reaps results

Barely a year after Lilongwe Society for the Protection and Care of Animal (LSPCA) helped to institute the Inter-Agency taskforce to fight wildlife crime there are now changes within the judicial system resulting in offenders committing wildlife crimes being meted stiff sentences.

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The inter-agency taskforce comprise enforcement institutions set up to crackdown and abate cases of wildlife crime in a bid to save endangered and rare species of fauna that have come under direct attack from organised criminal groups linked to international syndicates especially in the Far East.

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