Vétérinaires Sans Frontières International and the World Organisation for Animal Health are launching a joint project entitled “Strengthening the enabling environment for community animal health workers (CAHWs) through development of competency and curricula guidelines”. The project is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), and will run for 2 years.
The project will develop competency and curricula guidelines for CAHWs based on globally relevant models and needs. It will also identify and analyse the main training and implementation models for CAHWs globally, and determine the key success/failure factors and elaborate recommendations for sustainability of CAHWs models.
CAHWs play a key role in the delivery of last mile veterinary services in many countries around the world. Yet numerous challenges exist related to the sustainability and quality standards of CAHW training programs, including lack of coordination between those who train CAHWs, lack of regulation or even recognition of their role in providing animal health services, and sometimes, lack of follow-up when the projects that fund their training end.
For decades, the VSF International network has worked with CAHWs and provided training and mentoring to CAHW networks by reinforcing their technical competencies, supporting sustainable business models, integrating them into local and national animal health systems and regulatory frameworks, in collaboration with public and private veterinarians.
In 2018, VSF International published a policy brief on CAHWs highlighting their valuable role in providing quality proximity animal health services. The policy brief also identified key challenges such as lack of standardized training, lack of common nomenclature, inadequate supervision and unclear legal status.
To address these challenges, VSF international and the World Organisation for Animal Health are working in partnership in order to contribute to building an enabling environment so that CAHWs can be better regulated and acquire appropriate initial and continuous education.
Based on its extensive field experience, VSF International will bring technical support to this new project through the collection and review of CAHW program documentation, consolidated with field case studies and consultations.
From these findings and expert consultations, the World Organisation for Animal Health will work with international experts to develop guidelines for competencies and curricula related to CAHWs. These guidelines, which will complement guidelines already available , will be an important step towards helping to support the recognition and integration of CAHWs into animal health systems. This will contribute to improved workforce development planning for Veterinary Services which integrates the roles of veterinarians, veterinary paraprofessionals and CAHWs.
This publication was made possible through support provided by the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), U.S. Agency for International Development, under the terms of Award No. 720BHA21IO00330. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Agency for International Development.