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Chapter 5: Human resources

Personnel planning
Status of animal health personnel
Education and training

Personnel planning

Animal health personnel planning, education and training is of the utmost importance to any animal health service.

An adequate supply of well-trained and experienced personnel is a key requirement for an effective animal health service. In some developing countries, but not in all, there is a shortage of qualified veterinarians and support staff, thus creating a major obstacle to the animal health programmes, acceleration of livestock development and improvement of animal production.

Personnel needs are a broad, ranging from professional veterinarians at national, provincial and district offices and laboratories through to field veterinarians, animal health assistants and support staff.

Within a well-established animal health service, various grades of professional and technical personnel are required. They include:

• veterinarians;
• other professional personnel, including economists, entomologists, helminthologists and microbiologists;
• animal health assistants;
• laboratory technicians;
• food inspectors (for animal products);
• vaccinators;
• artificial inseminators;
• other auxiliaries, including stock inspectors and dip attendants;
• administrative, general services personnel.

Many criteria have been recommended as bases for assessing the number of personnel required. The major considerations include: the stage of development of the animal industry; the animal disease position; the size of flocks and herds; the use of animals for agricultural work and transport; the standard of living of the human population; the part played by veterinarians in animal husbandry; the use made of auxiliary personnel; the extent of veterinary involvement with companion animals; and the use of byproducts. The important aspects concerning the whole field of veterinary public health aimed at safeguarding humans from health hazards through animals (zoonoses control, food hygiene, etc.) should also be taken into account when assessing the requirements for animal health personnel.

The personnel needs, as well as the financial and material resources of each country, should determine the number and levels of training institutions required. The demand for trained research personnel depends on the scope and extent of planned research activities.

Status of animal health personnel


A veterinarian is a person who has graduated from a university-level veterinary school.

Government veterinary officers should be civil servants. Their rights and privileges should be equal to those of other professional civil servants with equivalent educational backgrounds.

All veterinarians should be subject to the jurisdiction of an independent veterinary council/board with the powers to implement standards of training, professional competence and ethical standards.

Professionals other than veterinarians

Professional scientists other than veterinarians may be employed by the official animal health service for specific tasks, provided that such professionals neither exercise the functions of veterinary officers nor supervise the exercise of such functions.

Animal health assistants, laboratory technicians and meat inspectors

These people may be employed by the official animal health service for auxiliary functions, under the direct supervision of a veterinary officer. They should be staff members of the official veterinary service, at the subprofessional level, and should be granted the rights and privileges of other civil servants of comparable education and responsibility. They should undergo formal training in their respective tasks which, in the case of animal health assistants, should be for a minimum period of two years.

Private veterinarians

Private veterinary surgeons may be engaged in certain official duties. In the exercise of such duties they should be subject to civil service discipline, under the authority of the CVO. Such arrangements can be made:

• in apart-lime capacity, but paid by the government, for specific functions in the framework of systematic surveys, eradication programmes or vaccination campaigns, meat inspection, dairy inspection and similar official veterinary inspection activities;

• under professional status, for purposes where functions of public interest cannot be separated from the exercise of veterinary practice, such as reporting of notifiable disease outbreaks and cooperation in general animal disease surveillance.

Auxiliary personnel

This term generally refers to stock inspectors, vaccinators and inseminators. These workers are very important as support staff to veterinarians. It is always necessary, however, to know exactly what is expected of the livestock industry before the veterinary services can plan their programmes of action and organize and utilize such auxiliary personnel to the utmost capacity.

With the increasing diversity of work to be performed and recognition that well-trained auxiliary personnel could relieve significantly the veterinarian's workload, more formal instruction has been introduced in the form of full-time training courses. Today, in most developing countries where an economic interest in livestock exists, there are well-established training centres.

Other auxiliary personnel

Depending on the size of the animal health service, there should be an auditor or a team of auditors within the central directorate or the ministry.

Administrative personnel

No country can organize a satisfactory animal health service without the support of qualified administrative personnel and other general service staff.

The size of the administrative unit and the diversity of its functions and duties must be directly related to the importance of the country's livestock industry and to the size and functions of the animal health service.

Education and training

Since the main function of education and training is to provide animal health staff in the numbers and of the quality required to meet national demand, an assessment of these requirements is essential to plan education programmes and to identify the number and types of training institutions required.


Serious attention should be paid to the implementation of educational programmes for veterinarians. Postgraduate training and continuing professional development have been neglected in some countries. Postgraduate courses should be established where possible and fellowships should be provided to support overseas training in specialized areas. International cooperation should be encouraged by fully utilizing existing regional and global educational and training facilities.

Close cooperation between the official veterinary services and veterinary schools should be established.

To ensure the competence of professional officers to meet increasing managerial responsibilities during the course of their careers, appropriate management courses should be made available through government training facilities.

Scientific and technical staff

Increased scientific and technical cooperation between countries should be encouraged to allow for the sharing of experience and advances made on subjects of common interest.

Developing countries already possessing qualified personnel and sufficient facilities should be encouraged to initiate training courses at postgraduate level. Such courses would increase the countries' capacities to generate new technologies for the improvement of local animal health and production.

Most technicians working in universities, research institutes, private laboratories and industries come from medium-level schools and their number should be as much as two to three times that of scientists. Training facilities and courses for technicians essential if scientists are to produce to their full capacity.

Animal health assistants

Trained animal health assistants, laboratory technicians and meat inspectors are extremely useful in carrying out much of the routine work, leaving the veterinarians more time to devote to the more skilled duties. These auxiliary staff should have formal training as well as practical experience.

Formal training of animal health assistants should consist of a minimum two-year course, which should be a recognized part of the post-secondary educational system of the country. Veterinary laboratory technicians and food inspectors should be recruited from among the animal health assistants and receive specialized training. Stock inspectors, vaccinators and inseminators in most circumstances attend only short courses and receive in-service training from their senior colleagues or from veterinarians responsible for the animal health services.

In some remote districts, and particularly in some nomadic grazing areas, it may be difficult for people to reach the educational level required to enter a formal animal health assistants course. However, these people may be given short-course training like primary animal health care workers as discussed in Chapter 4.


CTA/GTZ/IEMVT. 1984. Actes du séminaire sur une structure de santé animale de base. Le rôle des auxiliaires d'élevage en Afrique.

CTA/GTZ/ODA. 1985. Primary animal health care in Africa. Blantyre, Malawi.

FAO/WHO. 1978. Expert Panel on Veterinary Education. Fourth meeting. Uppsala, Sweden.

FAO. 1983. Manual for Animal Health Auxiliary Personnel.

FAO. 1984. Expert Consultation on Veterinary Education in Africa. Nairobi, Kenya.

FAO/WHO. 1971. Expert Panel on Veterinary Education. Third meeting. Rome.

FAO/WHO. 1973. World Directory of Veterinary Schools. Geneva, WHO.

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