BEVA Trust Helps Veterinarian Train Students in West Africa

Equine veterinary volunteer Alfonso Martin, BVSc, GP, Cert, EP, MRCVS, from Auburn Equine Clinic in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, travelled to West Africa in early February to help train veterinary students in Senegal and veterinarians in Mauritania. His mission was supported by the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) Trust.

Martin was one of a number of equine veterinarians who applied for the project, which was organized by SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad). The two-week project involved working with SPANA veterinarian Hannah Davies BVMS, MRCVS, to provide basic training to students at the University of Senegal and to the veterinary teams at two SPANA centers in Mauritania. Martin and Davies also provided support for the two mobile clinics run by SPANA veterinary teams in Mauritania and conducted an assessment of the area to set a baseline for welfare and veterinary care.

During the short time he was there Martin helped set up a radiograph system and an ultrasound scanner at the SPANA clinic in Nouakchott and trained students on how to use them; this equipment was donated by the Vets with Horsepower project. During his time at the clinic, Martin also set up a health assessment system, repaired malfunctioning equipment, provided laboratory work and dentistry training, and led numerous lameness work-ups, which helped the students hone their diagnostic skills.

“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,” Martin said. “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 BEVA’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 veterinarians provided teaching support for SPANA’s veterinary teams in Morocco.

In the United Kingdom the BEVA Trust is once again working with the British Horse Society and five horse welfare charities (Redwings Horse Sanctuary, Blue Cross, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Horseworld, and World Horse Welfare) to run a series of health care and castration clinics. The aim of the clinics is to open lines of communication with owners whose horses are deemed “at risk” through the provision of subsidized castration, microchipping, and tetanus vaccination. Three clinics have been organized to take place this spring in Yorkshire, East Midlands, and West Midlands.

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