‘Too few’ vets to tackle outbreaks

Henry

Thoko Didiza, in response to a written parliamentary question from the DA about the number of veterinary posts budgeted for in the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, revealed that the total number of approved and budgeted vet posts increased from 324 to 326 posts. has.

Despite the increase in the number of vet posts, the department still has a vacancy rate of 32% – which amounts to 103 unfilled posts out of the 326 posts that are funded.

According to Noko Masipa, the DA’s spokesperson on agriculture, land reform and rural development, the lack of veterinarians is an ongoing problem. At one stage, the DA made representations to Didiza to ask her to reverse a decision to exclude veterinarians from the list of rare skills of the Department of Internal Affairs.

Didiza confirmed after the DA’s representations that she had successfully motivated for the reinstatement of veterinarians on this list.

“It is worrying that South Africa is facing an outbreak of bird flu and haemorrhagic rabbit disease with limited vets available to help. Both diseases have become a national crisis, with Gauteng being the epicenter of this outbreak.

“Farmers have lost millions of chickens and thousands of rabbits die daily. Veterinary services are a provincial responsibility, but Gauteng is struggling to manage the situation and there is not enough available capacity elsewhere in the province to deploy at the specific epicentres,” says Masipa.

“The department needs additional manpower to assist farmers affected by these outbreaks. Poultry farmers require efficient processing of permit applications to import fertilized eggs. Upon arrival in the country, these eggs must be inspected by veterinary doctors, but there is not enough capacity to inspect the shipments quickly, causing delays.”

The DA requests Didiza to intervene provincially in Gauteng to help deal effectively with the urgent issue of the current outbreak of animal diseases, including African horse sickness, haemorrhagic rabbit disease and bird flu.

“The DA refuses to sit idly by while Gauteng’s food security is put at risk due to a lack of comprehensive plans to curb the spread of animal diseases and their potential spread to other provinces.”