A common challenge is the fact that most of the communities in Nigeria are undeserved by qualified professionals especially the veterinarians and in order to achieve a wider coverage and successful intervention, the need for Community-based Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) is paramount. CAHWs are members of the communities where interventions of the EU support to Livestock Disease surveillance (LIDISKI) project will be extended to. The CAHWs are selected using pre-identified criteria to ensure performance and recognition by community members as legitimate field actors. They are trained in good husbandry practices, basic animal healthcare procedures and surveillance activities with the help of the Veterinary Council of Nigeria. The CAHWs are equipped with licenses, basic kits and operate as animal healthcare service providers within the community. Nigeria recognizes CAHWs as support service providers. In some parts of Africa, CAHWs are most preferred as animal health service providers owing to their superior accessibility, availability, affordability and quality of their services. As most smallholder livestock farmers require professional services for their flocks, the trained CAHWs can undertake a limited range of animal healthcare tasks and help optimize production through disease prevention, in this case, Newcastle disease in poultry and PPR in small ruminants.
In the LIDISKI project CAHWs, will be responsible for vaccinating birds against Newcastle disease using thermostable NDi2 vaccine and the vaccination of small ruminants (sheep and goats) against pestes des petit ruminantes (PPR). They will also form the frontline actors in reporting suspected cases or outbreaks of the above-mentioned diseases.
A large percentage of the smallholder livestock farmer population is reached with the input of CAHWs who are equipped with basic kits for animal healthcare services including vaccination and treatment campaigns. The use of solar powered vaccine fridges and thermo-stable livestock vaccines have helped overcome vaccine integrity challenges and increased success rate of providing preventive services to animal diseases. Smallholder farmers can enjoy sustained access to veterinary services through the growing network of CAHWs across various geographical locations.
There are numerous contributions of the CAHWs within the animal health and husbandry value chain. One worthy of note is their role in the eradication of rinderpest, also known as cattle plague or steppe murrain through their aggressive involvement in mass vaccination of livestocks against the deadly disease in affected countries of Africa. The role of the CAHWs remains important for the reduction of losses in livestock production and promotion of national food security.
In perspective, CAHWs have been known to provide proven impacts through their inputs including:
- Reduction in number of disease outbreaks
- reduced mortality of sick animals and mortality during crises
- increased productivity and fertility of animals
- secured income of farmers through keeping animals in good health
- Improved food security and nutrition of livestock keeping communities
- better management of animal health, animal welfare and safety/hygiene of animal-sourced food.
- prevention and control of animal diseases of public health importance
FAO 2018. Community-Based Animal Health Workers (CAHWs): Guardians for quality, localized animal health services in hard to reach livestock production systems. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/partnership/?p=29469
Galvmed 2019. Recognising the Vital Role of Community Animal Health Workers. https://www.galvmed.org/recognising-the-vital-role-of-community-animal-health-workers/
Regassa G., Tessema E., Buono N., Heine C. 2015. From the Community, For the Community. https://www.dandc.eu/en/article/why-community-based-animal-health-workers-are-indispensable-not-only-ethiopia