SPANA HIGHLIGHTS THE SEVERE LACK OF ACCESS TO VET CARE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES ON WORLD ANIMAL DAY
This World Animal Day (4 October), working animal charity SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) is highlighting the huge disparity in access to veterinary care between the world’s developing countries and the UK.
Unlike in the UK and other higher income nations, a severe shortage of veterinary services in many developing countries means vast numbers of animals – including working animals – are suffering in silence.
In Zimbabwe, one of the many locations in which the charity works, there are only 340 vets serving the entire country. Tanzania, which has a population of over 56 million people, only has around 725 vets, and Mauritania – the 28th largest country in the world in size – has only 127 working vets. In comparison, the UK has over 25,000 working vets treating the country’s pets and animals.
SPANA is tackling this inequality and reaching animals in urgent need wherever it can. Last year, the charity provided free veterinary treatments to more than 388,000 working animals, including donkeys, horses, mules, camels and elephants in some of the world’s poorest communities. Through a network of veterinary centres and mobile clinics in more than 25 countries, SPANA is treating sick and injured animals that would otherwise have no veterinary assistance available to them.
The charity is also expanding veterinary capacity in many places. In 2019, SPANA trained 4,387 veterinary professionals around the world, equipping them with the skills and knowledge to provide essential treatment to many more animals.
In addition to access to care, affordability is another key issue. Households in Britain spent £4.8 billion on veterinary and other services for their pets in 2019. In stark contrast, most families in impoverished communities overseas simply cannot afford to pay for veterinary treatment.
Geoffrey Dennis, Chief Executive of SPANA, said: ‘It’s easy to take for granted the ease of access to veterinary care that animal owners enjoy in the UK and in other higher income countries.
‘The sad reality is that, in many developing countries, there simply aren’t enough vets to treat the vast numbers of animals that need assistance. Working animals are some of the most neglected – they perform vital roles in the poorest communities, but their welfare is often very poor and there is usually no veterinary care available to help them. Even if vet services did exist, families that struggle to earn a basic income would be unable to afford the treatment.
‘It’s a very telling fact that 99 per cent of the world’s equine vets treat less than 10 per cent of equids – and horses, donkeys and mules overseas are often totally overlooked.
‘Every day, SPANA’s vet teams encounter working animals in desperate need of our help. Our vets work tirelessly to offer a lifeline to animals and owners, who would have no options without the free treatment we provide. I am proud of the difference we make to the lives of thousands of working animals around the world. But, there are still countless others that are suffering – and with everyone’s support we give even more animals access to the lifesaving veterinary care they need.’
Celebrity vet Dr James Greenwood said: ‘I’ve had the honour of visiting Morocco to see first-hand the work of SPANA and the challenges and issues my fellow vets face in such a difficult working environment. The mobile clinics that visit rural areas are a world away from the comfortable clinics we’re used to in the UK. There’s a huge need for the free veterinary care that SPANA provides. This World Animal Day, I’m sending my thanks to their fantastic vet staff, who are making a huge difference to working animals and the people who depend on them.’
Dame Twiggy Lawson said: ‘Every day should be World Animal Day! In the UK, pets provide their owners – and everybody they meet – with unconditional love. The joy they give all year round is immeasurable and should never be taken for granted. Working animals are incredibly important to the families they support in the world’s poorest countries – and these animals deserve the same care and compassion as our precious pets. Please join me in supporting SPANA’s work to ensure these hardworking animals can live a life free from pain and suffering.’
SPANA believes that all animals deserve the right to high quality veterinary care. This World Animal Day, the charity is asking for your support to ensure that no animal has to endure pain and suffering.
You can find out more by visiting the SPANA website: spana.org/worldanimalday
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