In just under two weeks I’m going to be swapping the comforts of my surgery in the UK to spend a week working in rural Africa in my role as patron of the LSPCA (the Lilongwe Society for the Protection and Care of Animals, which is associated with the RSPCA in this country). I’m really excited about this trip, as it will be the first time I’ve ever experienced veterinary work in Africa, and I am really looking forward to getting my hands dirty and helping with the invaluable work that the society carries out. Unlike the UK, where most animals have the luxury of owners to feed and care for them, and the best private medical care that money can buy, the majority of domestic animals in Africa live a very different existence where simple things such as routine vaccinations can make the difference between life and death.
The society, which is staffed mainly by volunteers, works tirelessly in difficult conditions to bring veterinary care to animals that would otherwise be left with no access to medical care, and it’s not just the animals that benefit; through programs such as rabies vaccination schemes, the human population benefit massively as well as zoonotic diseases such as rabies are a major problem in many African societies.
As well as getting ready to vaccinate lots of animals out in Malawi, I’ve also been on the receiving end of quite a few needles myself over the last few weeks as I prepare for the trip. In addition to a course of 3 rabies injections, I’ve also needed vaccinations against hepatitis A, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and meningitis (all of which has left my upper arms looking like pin cushions!), along with a two week course of malaria tablets. It does make you think about how lucky not just our animals are in this country but how lucky we are as well, as that’s quite a list of disease that I’m being protected against that I’m sure the vast majority of the Malawian population have to face up to without the cover of vaccinations and prophylactic tablets.
Apart from getting my safari shorts out and stocking up on medicines from the surgery to take out with me, I’ve also been busy in my day job sorting out the sick and ill pets of the midlands with the Pet Vaccination Clinic practices. I’ve been in Nuneaton for the last couple of weeks which has been great, apart from the rather arduous 90 minute commute back and forth, and this week I’m off to the Birmingham suburb of Stetchford to work in their clinic there. And as well as working in the practices I’ve also been at the group head office as preparations continue to advance for the opening of my first practice with the group which should be ready in the next 4-6 months or so. It’s going to be quite a practice, based in an enormous glass fronted building, and I think it’s really going to take the veterinary world by storm, particularly in the town where we’re setting it up (which we’re keeping under wraps for now, but you’ll be amongst the first to know!)
And finally, in what has been a particularly busy week, even by my standards, I’ve been in talks with a production company who are putting together a new animal series for one of the major broadcasters, and hope to be presenting some features for the series which is due out later this year which will be great.