The VSF International network supports families and farmers’ organizations in 38 countries in Africa, the Americas and Asia. In 2020, it reached 2.07 million families and among them, provided direct support to 4,700 animal health professionals, including 4,300 Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs). CAHWs deliver quality proximity animal health services to livestock keepers in countries where veterinary services may shortfall.
VSF International drafted a definition for CAHWs: “Selected by their communities and in collaboration with private veterinary doctors, the veterinary public services and supporting bodies (projects and NGOs), Community-based Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) provide basic services and give husbandry advice to livestock keepers. They are in charge of disseminating certain farming techniques in order to optimize animal production. They also play an important role in epidemiological surveillance”.Despite their key role, CAHWs development and deployment face several constraints and challenges (VSF-Int policy brief, 2018). Indeed, in the different countries where they are operating, CAHWs legal status varies widely, from official recognition to prohibition. Despite their key role, CAHWs development and deployment face several constraints and challenges (VSF-Int policy brief, 2018). Indeed, in the different countries where they are operating, CAHWs legal status varies widely, from official recognition to prohibition.
There are numerous factors that lead to this disparity, but they mainly relate to the lack of agreed criteria around the definition, training, qualification, supervision, and deployment of CAHWs in both the public and private sectors.
To address these issues, OIE and VSF International are jointly implementing a two-year project entitled “Strengthening the enabling environment for community animal health workers through development of competency and curricula guidelines” and funded by USAID/BHA.
The project will allow the implementing organizations to provide an in-depth assessment of the training context and needs for CAHWs at the global level, based on regional and national-level analyses, and to develop guidelines for CAHW implementation models, competencies, and training, which will be key to support global recognition and harmonization of CAHWs training and services.
To proceed, the project will first identify and describe the main training and implementation models for CAHWs at the global scale. A general comparative assessment of CAHW training programs, institutional frameworks and operational set-ups will be done through literature review and regional expert consultations. On a second stage, the literature review work will be consolidated with a more detailed analysis in 3 or 4 countries in Africa and Asia.
The information collected and analysed will allow OIE to develop competency and curricula guidelines for CAHWs (after appropriate validation and testing), and VSF to produce guidelines and recommendations on the sustainability of the CAHWs models.