Wreathed in barbecue smoke, Vetjaera Haakuria gestures at the men butchering meat and cooking it over cinders behind his back. “What have you learned about the threats of consuming this?” he asks his young audience, clean in their white lab coats. “It might include drug residues? And what about diseases?”
It’s nearly noon in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital, and the marketplace is preparing grilled meat– recognized in your area as kapana– for the lunchtime rush. Everybody comes here, from building workers to members of parliament. Namibians enjoy to eat meat, and he is no exception: his people, the Herero, generally eat nothing else.
However guideline is irregular and the meat being offered at this market could include anything from antibiotics to parasites, Haakuria says. Illness that pass from animals to humans are swarming in the nation’s rural north.
Animals that pass away from unknown causes are eaten, no concerns asked. Last year more than 50 people were hospitalised in north-western Namibia after contracting anthrax, a deadly disease that had probably entered a goat flock from infected wildlife.
The University of Namibia teaches all its pharmacy students a little veterinary pharmacy. However beginning next year, it will provide a postgraduate specialist course on the subject. It is just the 2nd such course worldwide. The very first opened its doors at the UK’s Harper Adams University a decade ago.
“Part of the training will be around animal health and husbandry,” states Alison Pyatt, who runs Harper Adams’s postgraduate course, and who is assisting to establish its Namibian equivalent. Graduates from these courses do not change vets, she discusses. They are able to go out into farming neighborhoods and recommend individuals on how to keep their animals, and themselves, healthy.
In Namibia, that means teaching people about naturally taking place illness such as brucellosis, a bacterial infection passed from animals through milk, meat and even close contact, which can cause miscarriages in people.
Haakuria and Pyatt both think pharmacists are preferably put to supplement veterinary health services in rural areas. The medicines utilized to deal with human beings and animals are often the very same, he says, and pharmacists are specialists on how to give drugs safely and efficiently. This is something veterinarians don’t always understand how to do. And anyhow, in northern Namibia vets remain in short supply. A lot of towns have a pharmacist.
Veterinary pharmacists would provide drugs, recommendations and info to rural neighborhoods, Haakuria explains. They could also assist suppress drug resistance. Overuse of pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics in farming is among the main offenders driving the advancement of superbugs around the world. So if stores that dispense them in rural parts of the nation are required to have specifically skilled personnel, that would be a big advance, he says.
It does not have to stop with Namibia, he adds. “If it works here it requires just a bit of tweaking to operate in, say, Botswana.”
Talking to the students, it appears a minimum of a few of them are eager to follow in Haakuria’s steps. Almost all of them matured around animals and have seen the concerns Haakuria describes with their own eyes.
One of them, Venomuinjo Kasaona from Opuwo, a town near the border with Angola, keeps in mind consuming meat as a kid from an animal that he understands now had probably died of foot and mouth disease.
“I realise I can assist individuals back home,” he says.
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