Nyendwa Mobile Clinic: helping animals in Zambia's remote regions
AKI's grant recipient, Nyendwa Mobile Animal Clinic, is helping animals in drought stricken, sometimes flood ravaged areas where vet care has never before been available. With the AKI grant, Nyendwa provided services from September through November 2019. Annie Njovu is Nyendwa's Programme Officer and Animal Health Care Provider. Here's her report on their work.
Nyendwa's September Clinic
We started the grant program in September with a visit to one of the Muswishi villages in Chisamba district in the Central Province of Zambia. These remote villages are our target area. No vet care has ever been available there before.
We attended to sick dogs with serious cases: one had an umbilical hernia that needed treatment; another dog was wrongly castrated by the owner; we treated five cases of diarrhea--the two puppies held by the the children in the picture below were very weak and could not walk; two cases of vomiting-we de-wormed them and treated them. We made follow up visits three days later and all were recovering.
Nyendwa's October Clinics
The month of October was very hot, indeed the maximum temperature rose up to 41 degrees C and minimum 22 C - it is really very hot. We have seen all the rivers, streams, and man-made dams go dry, and some boreholes are dry.
When we started moving around Chisamba district to treat the animals, we could see that it was badly hit by the drought and there is starvation going on. We traveled to the farthest parts of Chisamba on dirt and gravel and rough roads to carry out our mobile clinics.
The district has been declared a disaster region. There is no food for animals and many of the people, and the government is now distributing relief food to the people. But the dogs and cats are really starving. They go for some days without food. People have to share water with their animals.
We carried out door-to-door rabies vaccinations, de-worming, and other treatments. We attended to 237 dogs and 42 cats-all were vaccinated and de-wormed, some requirements treatment for wounds, some for diarrhea. The dogs and cats we reached were in very bad condition, they were very thin, weak, and miserable and some could not stand up and walk because of weakness due to starvation.
Besides the treatments, our field officer went door-to-door advising families about how to care for their animals given these extreme conditions.
We are in need of an emergency source of funds to buy some food for the 50 dogs and 25 cats that are in the worst condition due to starvation because of drought. [We advised Nyendwa that they could use our grant funds to purchase food for the emergency cases.]
Nyendwa's November Clinics
November was a very busy month for the Nyendwa Mobile Animal Clinic and December started out busy as well. These are the rainy season months up to early March. During the rainy season, Nyendwa experiences and has to deal with so many disease outbreaks.
In the district neighboring Nyendwa's target area, there's a rabies outbreak. It started with a rabid dog who bit 2 goats. Within 24 hours the goats died and the dog was also found dead.
The rainy season comes after a prolonged drought--which has not yet ended in some districts, that brought terrible starvation, and the problem gets worse in December, January, and early February. And of course, when people are hungry, it's even worse for dogs and cats.
During the month of November, with the AKI grant, Nyendwa:
De-wormed 121 dogs and 21 cats
Vaccinated 56 dogs and 14 cats against rabies
Treated 146 dogs and 29 cats for fleas, ticks, and biting lice--these pests breed during the rainy season, so outbreaks will only get worse.
Treated 17 dogs and 7 cats for wounds-wounds only get worse during the rainy season when they fester.
Treated 9 cases of diarrhea
Fed 23 dogs and 8 cats --these animals were almost dead from starvation, but with improved nutrition and more food, Nyendwa saved them and they were able to stay with their owners.
Nyendwa is taking as many precautions as possible to prepare for the rainy season by treating dogs and cats now, before their problems get worse, educating owners about improving dog and cat health, and taking advantage of the mobile clinic outreach to contact as many people and help as many animals as possible.
There is still so much work to be done. Nyendwa's target is to vaccinate all dogs across Muswishi villages --if not vaccinated, the dogs are shunned and killed for fear of spreading rabies and other diseases.
Once again, I really thank you for your financial support.
We still have many challenges:
Once the communities heard about our services, the first time they were ever available in these villages, we received many more calls for help than we could respond to. Never before have rabies vaccinations, de-worming, and wound care been available in these villages and never before has someone cared about the animals' health and welfare. So many people are bringing their animals for veterinary services. We don't have the funds to care for everyone.
The situation in January and February will get worse during the rains, especially after the many problems left by the drought.
Transport to the far, remote villages during the rainy season is a challenge because some of the roads will be impassable.
Some of the people requested sterilization services, but we don't have the manpower or the medications needed and many of the animals are too weak to undergo the procedure.