Veterinarians once again a critically needed skill

Veterinary doctors and nurses are back on South Africa’s critical skills list, which will facilitate the recruitment of foreign vets for the country’s business and agriculture operations.

Agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo has frequently pointed out the lack of sufficient state veterinary capacity and staff to help control animal diseases and bird flu. The country’s poultry master plan also stresses the need for additional veterinary capacity to provide the certifications needed to back the planned chicken export drive.

Employing foreign vets would help to fill the many vacancies, but in February 2022 vets and veterinary nurses were removed from the critical skills list, which cuts some of the red tape involved in employing foreign nationals.

Now they are back on that list, according to the SA Veterinary Council (SAVC). The council said that in 2023 it had “raised alarm bells about the high numbers of vets leaving the country, which is resulting in South Africa facing a severe skills shortage in a profession that is critical to ensuring animal health and food safety and security”.

It hoped that making it easier for foreign vets and veterinary students to work in South Africa “would go a long way in mitigating South Africa’s veterinary skills deficit”.