The shortage of state vets

South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance party says understaffed state veterinarian facilities are undermining the country’ food security. It has urged the government to take urgent action, including enlisting private sector help, to fill more than a hundred vacancies.

The DA’s Noko Masipa said in a statement that the government had confirmed that there were 103 unfilled posts out 326 posts for veterinary doctors.

This was hampering the country’s fight against two diseases which had become a “national crisis” – avian influenza (bird flu) and rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV). The current outbreaks of animal diseases also included African horse sickness.

Masipa urged the government to consider a “targeted provincial disaster intervention” in Gauteng province, which had been badly hit. This should include public and private veterinary capacity.

He did not mention problems with poultry exports, which are also affected. A shortage of state veterinary staff and facilities is hampering plans to provide the certifications required by export destination countries.