Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Can improving animal health and biosecurity knowledge of para-veterinarians in Cambodia assist in addressing challenges in smallholder livestock farming?

Abstract

Para-veterinarians are crucial in providing front-line veterinary care and advice to smallholder farmers in countries with under-resourced national veterinary services. Many of these individuals undergo basic training with minimal monitoring and evaluation of performance and knowledge levels. To identify the knowledge, attitudes and practices of Cambodian para-veterinarians a cross-sectional survey (n = 80) of Village Animal Health Workers (VAHWs) was conducted during August 2018 in the provinces of Tbong Khmum and Takeo in southern Cambodia. Descriptive statistics indicated that VAHWs had a high level (mean score 86%) of animal health and biosecurity knowledge. As the Royal Government of Cambodia continues to move towards commercial agricultural value chains, VAHWs are crucial to ensuring the safety and sustainability of these systems. Binomial logistic regression modelling found the length of employment (p = .003), reporting of pig diseases (p = .007), recommending the quarantine of newly purchased animals (p = .008), treatment of cases of haemorrhagic septicaemia with antibiotics (p = .032) and washing footwear with water when entering or leaving a farm (p = .008) were all positively associated with a higher (≥ 92%) animal health and biosecurity knowledge score. These results demonstrate the correlation of positive biosecurity and disease reporting behaviours with high levels of knowledge, providing evidence that improved training of VAHWs can ensure they remain important in supporting the under-resourced national veterinary services. Regular monitoring and evaluation of training programmes for VAHWs will likely further strengthen the livestock sector in Cambodia.