A young hero to animals and people

An FAO-EU project ensures that quality veterinary services in Tajikistan safeguard livelihoods

Abdurashid Bobojonov, a young veterinarian in Tajikistan, chose the profession because veterinarians help save lives every day, making them heroes not only for the animals but also for their owners.©FAO/Bunafsha Azimova


Being a veterinarian isn’t always easy and definitely comes with unique challenges, but the rewards of the career are plentiful. Animal doctors wouldn’t want to do anything different. No two days are alike for these veterinarians. They get to examine different types of animals, see a variety of injuries and conditions and utilize many diagnostic tools to determine the best plans of action. However, gaining a wide range of experience for young vets can take years of practice.

Last year, FAO, in close cooperation with the Association of Veterinarians of Tajikistan, organized a 10-day training course targeted on comprehensive professional development for veterinary practitioners throughout the country. This training course was part of an FAO project, funded by the European Union, aimed at supporting the Ministry of Agriculture and Veterinary Services in improving policy formulation in Tajikistan.

The training course was composed of theoretical and practical parts taking place in clinics and on farms. The course quickly broadened the knowledge of vet practitioners, knowledge that could otherwise take years to develop in the field, providing them with the skills and tools needed for preventing, detecting, and responding rapidly and effectively to animal diseases.

One such beneficiary of the training is young vet, Abdurashid Bobojonov. This 24-year-old graduate of Tajik Agrarian University works in the northern part of Tajikistan in the Bobojon Gafurov district of Sughd region, where he lives with his wife and three children.

With EU funding, FAO and the Association of Veterinarians of Tajikistan organized a 10-day training course for veterinary practitioners throughout the country to ensure that their professional skills keep pace with industry developments. ©FAO/Bunafsha Azimova

“Why did I choose to be a veterinarian? It probably sounds very strange, but veterinarians are very important and respected people in Tajik society, particularly in rural areas. The reason why they are so important is because they save the lives of many livestock every day, protecting the health and well-being of both animals and people. They are not only heroes to animals, but they are also heroes to people,” emphasized Abdurashid. 

Nowadays, rapid changes and the need for up-to-date and highly developed skills have placed new demands on vet practitioners to ensure that their professional skills keep pace with what is happening in this industry. During the course, the needs and requirements of veterinary services based on the specific local contexts were taken into account, making the training more relevant to individual vets.

“Since livestock are a very valuable asset for Tajik rural households, the expectations of the communities are very high and diverse at the same time,” added Abdurashid.

“By attending this course, I strengthened my knowledge and skills that certainly improved the service I’m delivering in this field. I believe that such initiatives can also reduce rural poverty through enhancing the safety of animal products for domestic consumption and trade, also decreasing losses of livestock.”

Upon completion of the training, young practitioners received start-up kits that consisted of special clothing and veterinary tools for working with animals in rural areas, in order to make their jobs more efficient and productive. They also established a network among participants of the training course, who are now able to call each other to share lessons learnt and discuss challenges and opportunities encountered during their practice.

In many respects, a veterinarian is similar to a pediatrician. Like babies and young children, animals cannot tell a doctor what is wrong and much of the medical history has to be obtained from observant adults. When health problems arise, veterinarians diagnose the problems and treat the animals. Treatments may involve several different procedures, including emergency life-saving techniques, prescribing medication, setting fractures, birthing, performing surgery or advising an owner on the feeding and care of the animal.

Abdurashid receives phone calls at any time of the day or night from villagers needing help for their sick animals. Having access to quality veterinary services is crucial for rural people to guarantee the health and productivity of the livestock. ©FAO/Bunafsha Azimova

But being a hero comes with its own set of challenges. After years of tireless work, Abdurashid was burnt out. While pursuing his dream career, there were plenty of people uttering words of discouragement. He learned that no matter what anyone else says or how crazy an idea may sound, the most important thing is to believe in yourself and just go for it. He decided that he would much rather try and fail than to never have tried at all.

“There were many naysayers when I started my career as a veterinarian. Some villagers and clients doubted my skills, knowledge, and experience when they saw me so young — some even made fun of me. They said: “You are too young to save our livestock. It is hard to rely on you,” Abdurashid recalled with a smile. “Negativity could be toxic if I allowed it to take control of my dreams to be qualified and proficient; therefore, I refused to be defeated. I used people’s negativity like a vaccine — preparing me for all the challenges that lay ahead. And slowly, step by step, people started to believe in me and appreciate the services I provide for community members.”

Abdurashid does not have a work schedule. He receives phone calls at any time of the day or night. The villagers call him for healing their animals and even seeking advice on proper nutrition and food rationing, housing, and other general issues related to the animals. Ensuring quality veterinary services is  crucial and having access to such services is very important for local people in the villages to guarantee the health and productivity of the livestock.

“I really have high expectations towards my chosen profession. It is very important to me to keep the community’s trust and recognition of the veterinary services’ value. I do not want to stop with the progress I have achieved, I will go further,” added Abdurashid.  

Skills, abilities and the desire to make a difference exist in every community. By supporting these talents, FAO and its partners help enable communities to improve their livelihoods and ensure their food security, two critical steps in achieving a world without hunger and poverty

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