To make a lasting difference to future generations of animals, our veterinary teams work to strengthen existing healthcare infrastructures.
We employ over 150 vets, and more than 6,000 vets, paravets and other healthcare professionals work with us either through our partners or in training. Our national vet teams understand how the local population of working equids and their owners work and the specific challenges they face.
We train local healthcare professionals (HCPs) such as government and private vets, paravets and community animal health workers to provide good quality, welfare-friendly services for working equids.
In many of the places we work there is little education in equine-specific veterinary medicine. Brooke vets in the field train others in the practical handling and treatment of equids. In turn, they are supported in improving their own knowledge and skills by the technical teams in the UK who provide up-to-date training in working equine veterinary medicine and adult education techniques. This cascade training method allows greater numbers of HCPs to be trained in a wide variety of local languages.
Providing veterinary services
Where there is no healthcare, Brooke vets provide emergency veterinary assistance directly, using this opportunity to spread positive messages about the care and welfare of working equids.
Where healthcare is available but hard to access, our teams act as a link between communities and healthcare providers, making sure cases are referred to local HCPs and providing technical back-up and training to them instead.
We investigate carefully to ensure providing free services will not undermine existing local healthcare systems.
Prevention is better than cure
Keeping animals healthy in the first place is always our plan. Brooke vets work closely with community engagement teams to help owners avoid preventable injuries and disease, provide basic first aid when problems do occur and know when to seek help from HCPs.
By educating owners to identify good quality healthcare, they are able to demand better services for their animals.
Wider healthcare infrastructure
Capacity building of HCPs alone is not enough. For improved healthcare options to remain after we have gone, we help people develop their healthcare businesses and improve their access to resources and support networks.
We work with veterinary universities and technical colleges in many of our countries to include equine-specific welfare and veterinary medicine training in the curriculum so the next generation of HCPs will be equipped to help working equids. Even those who don't choose a career with horses and donkeys will hopefully be advocates for animal welfare and sensitive to the issues facing working equine animals and their owners.
We help HCPs set up their own networks of referrals between themselves. This might be asking for help with a difficult case or simply providing cover for each other during holidays or sickness.
Access to medicines, vaccinations and equipment appropriate for use with horses and donkeys is a challenge. Brooke teams have helped HCPs set up bulk buying groups, forged links between HCPs and pharmacists, started drug-revolving funds and created routes for importing medicines such as pain relief that were previously unavailable. We help country programme teams to source regional suppliers of equipment or to find ways of manufacturing equipment with local craftsmen.
Clinical quality monitoring
As we try to help more animals and therefore work through training others, we make sure the quality of healthcare delivered is as good as possible. Clinical quality monitoring of our own vets, and of HCPs trained by our vets, is being rolled out in all our programmes to demonstrate the outcomes of our work. The three outcomes being measured are:
- The quality of healthcare service provision
- Whether owners use and value these services for their equine animals
- Whether healthcare service provision can be sustained in the future without Brooke
Different tools are used to measure each of these outcomes. Work based assessment in the field is used to measure outcomes which means teams have regular contact with all the HCPs they work with, and can use the opportunity to mentor them through cases. By observing the practice of the HCP we can identify areas for improvement and support changes leading to improved treatment.
Supporting the field teams
The UK service provision team provides technical back-up and training to the field teams as well as maintaining a unique bank of resources specific to working equid veterinary medicine. We foster a learning community to encourage our vets to constantly learn and improve their care for working equids.
In recent years, the team has produced the Working Equid Veterinary Manual which is the only book aimed at veterinary surgeons practicing with working equids in developing countries. All our vets also have access to veterinary medicine e-learning modules, discussion forums and individual online support to try to maximise our availability to our vets around the world.