Community-based animal health workers
Turkana, northern Kenya
In the Turkana region of northern Kenya, animal health is critical to the livelihoods of pastoralist communities but formal veterinary services often do not reach the remote areas where many pastoralists live.
Matthew Lemuya - Chair of Animal health Workers Group, Namoruputh - displays his stock of medicinesCommunity Based Animal Health Workers (CBAHWs) have been recognised as having a role in bridging this gap for more than a decade under national policy in Kenya, but in reality there has been little penetration of CBAHWs into mainstream veterinary practices. Practical Action has been working to change this, encouraging the Turkana District Veterinary Office to train more CBAHWs and to provide monitoring and a referral service for complex cases. We have also been instrumental in making links between the CBAHWs and private sector drug and vaccine suppliers (Coopers K Brand and Norbrook), ensuring product use training and a reliable supply chain for critical medicines.
CBAHWs are now seen to provide a surveillance role on behalf of the District Veterinary Office as primary disease monitors. They are also seen to be responding to calls for assistance with 24 hours and Kraal level reports indicate survival rates of treated livestock identified as at-risk by CBAHWs have reached 70%, compared to a 15% baseline. On average 2 drugs transactions per month were sourced by CBAHWs from private sector suppliers. None existed before this work. Eldoret's Norbrook sales manager Dr Were has identified Ksh70,000 worth of new transactions every month through this channel: "I never ever expected anything of this kind to come from pastoralists. It is a business opportunity we need to refocus on."