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Chapter 4: Organization and management

Central directorate
Field services
Import/export and quarantine control
Distribution of veterinary products and equipment
Veterinary laboratories
Model organograms

Central directorate

The animal health service should be under the authority of a Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) who reports to the appropriate minister directly or through established channels.

The CVO has national responsibilities for improving and maintaining the health status of the animal population of the country and participates in the protection of human health through:

• proposing government animal health strategies and policies;

• recommending priorities for action, based on surveillance of the animal health situation;

• planning and implementing the various programmes;

• preparing the budget;

• managing personnel and resources;

• evaluating the cost/benefit aspects of the programmes;

• ensuring cooperation between neighbouring countries and national and international organizations;

• establishing intersectoral public health cooperation between human health and veterinary departments and with animal production departments, where they are separate from the animal health service;

• controlling animal reservoirs of human diseases;

• raising public awareness by disseminating general information about diseases and their control.

The CVO may be assisted by deputies.

The organization of the directorate will vary according to the size and socio-economic status of the countries and the importance of livestock to the national economy. However, within the directorate, the following sections are usually included.

Animal health planning, evaluation and implementation section. This section is responsible for advising the CVO on the planning and evaluation of disease control policies and programmes and also supervises the execution of field programmes. It should include an epidemiology unit responsible for the collection of data and information and the monitoring of the disease situation. It is also responsible for collaboration with neighbouring countries and regional/international organizations. It should have close links with the central and provincial diagnostic laboratories and also supervise the quality, storage and distribution of veterinary vaccines and drugs.

Veterinary public health section. This section is responsible for veterinary public health activities, notably the control of zoonoses, food hygiene (animal products) and animal-related aspects of protection and improvement of the environment.

Training and extension section. This section serves to promote training at all levels, keeping personnel requirements under constant review. It should also be responsible for the promotion of information activities, supporting field extension work and maintaining strong links with institutions on research applicable in the field.

Other technical sections. In some countries the directorate includes other sections, such as animal protection and welfare sections. The role of these sections should be to coordinate the activities of the service in the field of animal protection and serve as advisers in problem cases. They should also work with national and international organizations.

Administrative section. The administrative section should be responsible for all aspects of financial control and personnel management. Where the purchase, storage and distribution of drugs is centralized, a veterinary pharmacy may be established under the responsibility of the directorate.

In large countries, it may be desirable to subdivide some of the above sections into smaller units with specific tasks.

Field services

Organization and management

In order to execute animal disease control programmes, adequate structures are necessary at the field level. To begin with, there should be a chain of command proceeding from the directorate to the field.

The echelon immediately below the directorate level usually consists of provincial or district officers having adequate professional and technical staff support, as well as diagnostic facilities to meet the demands of the area covered.

Under the provincial or district structure, one of the following systems or a combination thereof is required to bring animal health services as close as possible to animal owners.

Communication plays a very important part in animal disease control programmes. In some developing countries it has been very useful to have a radio communications system between the central directorate, diagnostic laboratories and field personnel for rapid exchange of disease control information.

Animal health offices. Their primary function is to provide preventive veterinary medicine services. In some countries these offices may need to establish clinical facilities, increasingly so in areas where animal productivity and profitability are being enhanced through improvement measures. In such areas, however, there may be a place for privatization of certain field services, which would relieve government services of routine clinical work.

Well-equipped mobile veterinary teams may be established to operate under the animal health office organization to serve more remote parts of the country, especially for the prevention and control of major epidemic diseases.

In a system that has worked well in some countries, the government veterinary staff purchase their own vehicles with a low-interest loan and receive an allowance for official travel.

Primary animal health care workers. Under nomadic and transhumant animal production systems, a special unit recruited from rural areas and given short-course training in basic animal health care may be assigned to groups or communities of livestock owners to live among them and move with them. Limiting factors of this system are technical restraints, such as cold storage of vaccines and restocking of veterinary products. However, in many developing countries this may be the only way to ensure the permanent presence of animal health care personnel among livestock owners.

Import/export and quarantine control

Protection of the national territory from the introduction of animal diseases is an essential task of any animal health service, which, for this purpose, should have the overall power to control the import of all live animals and products of animal origin.

This requires control facilities along the borders, at seaports and airports, including the provision of quarantine stations where animals can be kept for observation. Similar control facilities are needed for the protection of disease-free zones where they have been established.

The animal health services must also exercise control over exports of live animals and animal products. This subject has been dealt with in detail in Chapter 3.

Distribution of veterinary products and equipment

Veterinary drugs and equipment

The aim is to ensure a steady supply of veterinary drugs and equipment for both the public and the private sectors.

Public sector. At the national level, the animal health service may import, store and distribute essential veterinary products and equipment. The maintenance of strategic reserve stocks should be assured.

Private sector. Authorized pharmacies and drug depots market approved veterinary drugs following the national regulations for sale and use of these products. The private sector may also market veterinary equipment.

Veterinary vaccines

The majority of veterinary vaccines, particularly those containing live attenuated virus, must be kept constantly cold while in store and during transport to retain their effectiveness.

In the distribution of veterinary vaccines, it may be possible to utilize existing cold chains of the medical services or other services/organizations.

Control of veterinary products

The use of pharmaceutical products and vaccines must be controlled. Each country should have legislation to control the importation, manufacture, storage, distribution and final use of these products. Further details are given in Chapter 8.

Wherever practical, control procedures should be conducted in the country using the product. However, as many countries do not have the facilities to check all the registration information and to run further trials on the drugs and vaccines, they should only accept that products have been registered in a country with a reliable registration system. This should suffice as long as the same conditions of use are applied.

Ideally there should be a laboratory that can carry out quality checks in the country. This facility is expensive and few developing countries have such a laboratory. In countries where this facility does not exist, periodic samples should be sent to an independent laboratory for quality testing. The same registration rules and checks should apply to products manufactured within the country as well as to imported products.

Veterinary laboratories

Diagnostic facilities

An efficient animal disease diagnostic organization is needed to support the various activities of the animal health services, both for the state service and for the private sector.

All veterinarians in the field should be equipped to collect specimens from live animals suspected of being diseased, or at post-mortem examination, and to dispatch them to the provincial or central diagnostic laboratory.

Each country needs a well-equipped central diagnostic laboratory for the diagnosis of major animal diseases. Depending on the livestock population and the efficiency of the communication system, satellite laboratories may be established and may be specialized in their scope according to the priorities of the area.

Central diagnostic laboratory. The prime function of the central diagnostic laboratory is to provide field veterinarians with specialized services. It may also be required to investigate identified disease problems in depth in order to assist the government in defining proper control strategies.

The central diagnostic laboratory should have technical links with FAO, WHO and OIE International Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres and other diagnostic laboratories in the region in order to obtain confirmation of diagnosis of diseases for which it does not have sufficient experience or technical capability. It should be subdivided into sections covering the major disciplines.

While much of the basic research on animal diseases is carried out in specialized laboratories in developed countries, central diagnostic laboratories in developing countries may have an important role in specific research activities aimed at applying new findings to local situations. These include:

• the development of diagnostic procedures and control techniques adapted to the countries' conditions;

• the protection of the environment (environment pollution, water contamination, disease vectors and urban and rural animal population control).

Provincial diagnostic laboratories. Smaller laboratories should be established at the provincial level to carry out diagnostic procedures that do not require sophisticated equipment and specialized personnel.

Close cooperation between central and provincial laboratories is necessary for the success of animal health programmes. Financially and administratively, the provincial laboratories should be under the provincial veterinary authority. Technically and scientifically, they should come under the authority of the central laboratory.

Vaccine production laboratories

As stated in Chapter 3, under the heading "Control of veterinary products", before a decision is made as to whether a country should produce its own vaccines against animal diseases, it is essential that a very careful investigation be made into the costs involved and that the anticipated demand be ascertained. In general, vaccines against bacterial diseases can be prepared in large quantities with relatively simple equipment, while viral vaccines require sophisticated apparatus and tissue culture facilities in many cases.

Vaccine production laboratories must be housed in isolated areas where no animals are allowed in close proximity. All effluent from laboratories must be decontaminated before release and all waste material incinerated.

Certain activities in the production of vaccine may be centralized for greater efficiency, e.g. preparation of media, sterilization and decontamination of equipment.

Model organograms

Model organograms, giving a suggested basic orientative structure for animal health services, are provided in Annexes 1A and 1B. They should be adapted to take account of the situations in different countries.


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