2022 is the 7th consecutive year of the Compulsory Community Service (CCS) year introduced by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) in November 2015.
Legislative changes to the Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Act (Act 19 of 1982) in the form of the Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Professions Amendment Act 2012 as well as new regulations that came into effect in November 2015 aided in the implementation of this state-funded programme aimed at providing accessible and affordable veterinary services to resource-poor and under-serviced areas within South Africa who would previously not have been afforded the opportunity to engage with such services.
Below are some of the objectives of the programme:
- To promote accessibility of veterinary services to resource-poor areas particularly regarding the following aspects:
- To promote the safety of food of animal origin
- To facilitate the trade of animals and animal products
- To promote veterinary diagnostic capabilities
- To promote animal health through management of controlled and non-controlled diseases
- To provide primary animal health care, including clinical services and animal welfare, to under-served areas
- To cultivate a relationship with communities through which education may be delivered and discussions may be facilitated
- To provide an opportunity for Compulsory Community Service (CCS) veterinarians to acquire knowledge, critical thinking and problem-solving skills that will aid them in their future professional development.
The programme is funded centrally (nationally) by DALLRD whereby CCS veterinarians are considered employees. Although employed centrally, the CCS veterinarians are deployed throughout the provinces where their services are needed most. All provinces are eligible for the CCS programme and all requests presented to the department are assessed and prioritised. The areas and facilities that are deemed to be most in need, receive priority when it comes to the allocation of newly qualified veterinarians. Veterinary students in their fifth year of study are contacted by DALLRD and the available number of students are then allocated to a facility ranked by priority within South Africa. Each CCS vet is assigned a mentor or supervisor for the year and works directly under their guidance and supervision.
This year the Western Cape has been allocated 19 CCS veterinarians. Their placements cover a wide range of veterinary fields including animal welfare, public health, export control, laboratory and state veterinary services.
Provincial veterinary services are funding some of the operational day to day costs as well as coordinating the activities of the CCS vets within the province. CCS postings extend to any strategic partner in veterinary services, such as animal welfare organizations, private practitioners as well as other veterinary community outreach service providers across the country.
The CCS programme presents an ever-increasing opportunity for the development of the veterinary profession in the coming years as well as equipping newly qualified graduates with the knowledge and hands-on experience gained in community service. This will benefit them hugely in their future careers as veterinarians. The CCS team in the Western Cape Province are excited and proud to be involved in this new venture to invest in sustainable veterinary services in our communities.
Veterinarians performing CCS will not compete with the private sector, but rather aim to complement the services delivered by all sectors of the veterinary profession. Newly qualified veterinarians now have the opportunity to work in a field they previously would not have been exposed to, creating awareness and ultimately sending a well-rounded veterinarian back into the community. The Western Cape is setting trends in streamlining rigorous processes, as well as the establishment of legal compliance in various arenas, most notably the Performing Animal Protection Act (Act 4 of 2016), or ‘PAPA’. The new CCS veterinarians have already received training in this discipline and they will be utilised heavily to expand on this front.
Another big focus for the contemporary veterinarian, including the CCS vets, is the concept of ‘One Health’. Simply put, the One Health philosophy accepts the fact that human, animal and environmental health cannot be dealt with separately. Rather, these elements are holistically intertwined and have to be assessed as a whole. This is why Veterinary Services must collaborate with Public Health and Environmental Affairs. The CCS team’s aim is not to deal with animal affairs in isolation, but to improve our precious communities and our beautiful environment through understanding and collaborative efforts. Watch this space.