A veterinarian from Ireland has travelled to West Africa to help train vet students in Senegal and vets in Mauritania in a two-week project with SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad).
Intrepid equine veterinary volunteer Alfonso Martin from Auburn Equine Clinic in County Antrim was one of several horse vets who applied for the project, and as a fluent French speaker with good general practice skills, he proved to be the perfect candidate for the hands-on post. His trip was also supported by the BEVA Trust, the charitable arm of the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA).
The project involved working with SPANA Vet Hannah Davies to provide basic training to students at the University of Senegal and to the veterinary teams at two SPANA centres in Mauritania. Alfonso and Hannah also provided support for the two mobile clinics run by SPANA veterinary teams in Mauritania and conducted a welfare assessment of the area to set a baseline for welfare and veterinary care.
In the short time he was there Alfonso helped set up an X-Ray system and an ultrasound scanner at the SPANA clinic in Nouakchott and trained students on how to use them. This equipment had been donated by the Vets with Horsepower project. During his time at the clinic, Alfonso also set up a health assessment system, repaired malfunctioning equipment, provided lab work and dentistry training and led numerous lameness work-ups, which helped the students hone their diagnostic skills.
Alfonso was inspired to volunteer having helped to organise the Belfast leg of the Vets with Horsepower project which comprises a group of motorbiking senior level vets who deliver high level CPD (continuing professional development) to raise money and awareness of specific causes.
He explains: “I want to put back into the profession as much as I can and helping other colleagues in hard-up areas and the animals by default is a rewarding way to do this. It was amazing to see the faces of the local vets and owners when we arrived with the latest equipment and helped with the running of the clinics. Education is better than handouts. Anyone thinking of volunteering should get on and do it as it’s very fulfilling as well as exciting.”
The BEVA Trust is the British Equine Veterinary Association’s philanthropic arm, providing practical support for voluntary welfare projects. It is the second year that BEVA Trust has provided volunteers for SPANA veterinary training initiatives in Africa. Last year two equine vets provided valuable teaching support for SPANA’s veterinary teams in Morocco.
At home The BEVA Trust is once again joining forces with The British Horse Society (BHS), and five other major horse welfare charities (Redwings Horse Sanctuary, Blue Cross, RSPCA, Horseworld and World Horse Welfare) to run a series of healthcare and castration clinics. This project follows the successful format of three clinics run last year. The aim is to open lines of communication with owners whose horses are deemed “at risk” through the provision of subsidised castration, microchipping, and tetanus vaccination.
Three clinics have been organised this spring in Yorkshire, East Midlands and West Midlands.
Volunteers are sought to help at these BEVA Trust projects – find out more.