One Health at Brooke case study - Animal Health Mentoring Framework
This case study illustrates how Brooke is building veterinary paraprofessional competencies through the Animal Health Mentoring Framework.
Tackling the need for better paraveterinary skills
Across Africa and Asia a large proportion of primary animal healthcare is delivered by veterinary paraprofessionals (paravets) who work at the frontline of animal health systems and often manage complex clinical conditions. These practitioners also provide a vital surveillance function and will be the first to detect disease outbreaks.
However, paravets receive varying levels of training - from just two weeks to two years, which is usually classroom based with no opportunities to develop practical clinical skills. As a result we see paravets with low levels of confidence and skills performing procedures for which they have not been trained or that are not authorised to treat.
This leads to poor handling, incorrect diagnosis and treatment choice (in particular excessive and inaccurate use of antimicrobials), spread of disease and poor preventative medicine practices. This in turn can contribute to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and poses a risk to the health of humans and animals alike, as well as a threat to the environment. If overused, antibiotics are no longer effective and fail to treat disease in humans and animals. Their excessive use can also lead to contamination of water or soil.
Brooke has developed the Animal Health Mentoring Framework (AHMF) whereby trained mentors (usually an experienced veterinarian or paravet) accompany paraprofessionals while they are attending to real life cases, providing support and coaching as the work is carried out. This allows the paravets to develop practical skills and allows for identification of capacity gaps and priority areas for improvement.
Since 2013, the AHMF has been successfully used to mentor over 4,000 animal health professionals in India, Pakistan, Kenya, Senegal, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Nepal. As a result of the mentoring, 37% of practitioners moved from an unsatisfactory competency level to satisfactory within one year.
The Government of Ethiopia is applying the AHMF to assess and improve its animal health services across all species of livestock. The AHMF is also being piloted in the Kenya Veterinary Board internship programme.
Thanks to our experience with the AHMF, Brooke was invited by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to join a working group on designing curricula for veterinary paraprofessionals in training institutions across OIE member states.
The Framework also helps uncover and address system-level issues such as access to medicines. In Kenya, it helped reveal that 90% of animal health professionals did not have access to any form of pain relief for animals.
Significance to One Health
Improvements in paraveterinary training and regulation are critical to One Health. Well trained paraprofessionals improve food safety, help reduce AMR, play a key role in disease surveillance, and prevent diseases transferring from animals to humans (zoonoses). The Animal Health Mentoring Framework (AHMF) applies to all species of livestock, not just equids, and as such can be easily adopted by other organisations.