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Our Vet In Malawi

Fri 8th May 2015

Our International Veterinary Manager, Dr Dagmar Mayer is in Malawi working alongside local vets in and around the area of Blantyre. 

Good news! The BSPCA received a donated container that will serve as a surgical theatre! It will get equipped with medical supplies when the donated “Equip A Clinic” goods arrive in Blantyre! It came with a wooden floor, painted and looks very nice in BSPCA colours!

Ilona (clinical director of WVS International Training Centre ITC in India) and Nigel Otter arrived with their two lovely daughters two weeks ago and they were a great help with all the final preparations for the Mission Rabies vaccination project.

It didn’t take long for them to experience some of the difficulties that animals face here. On their second day in Malawi we had to perform an emergency caesarian on a bitch who had been in labour for two days. She managed to deliver two puppies but kept straining without success after that. We were then able to save the mother but the three puppies in the uterus were already dead. Without our intervention, the mother dog would have also been dead within a few days....

One a more positive note, even with all the preparations still ongoing we still managed to have a spay day in Nyambadwe Primary school one weekend.

Working with Ilona is amazing; I have known her for nearly five years now. We taught together at the ITC and worked on the launch of Mission Rabies in India, so it was very nice to finally find the time to do some surgeries together!

We spent World Veterinary Day working hard and spaying dogs. Ilona’s daughters even chipped in by helping with us by helping whatever way they could.

More members of the Mission Rabies team, Kate, Andy and Ros, arrived and after an opening ceremony with representatives of the human health department, the Department of animal health and the city council, we started vaccinating the dogs of Blantyre!

At the moment we are working at vaccination locations all over the city and during that week, then we follow this up with door-to-door vaccinations to make sure we reach an incredible 70% coverage of the dog population. This way we can create “herd immunity”. The goal of the programme is the elimination of rabies in Blantyre in 2017!

The first day I arrived at my vaccination point we found roughly 200 dogs with their owners waiting outside the school for our arrival. People patiently queue for up to several hours with their dogs until it's their turn. They all receive a vaccination card and a wristband. We keep seeing the same children bringing in the dogs of their neighbours, I have a slight suspicion that they are collecting wristbands!

We also are seeing lots of cats being brought in for their rabies vaccination. Most of them are brought in in empty potato sacks, cardboard boxes or even bird-cages!

The door to door vaccinations are especially tiring as we spend all day in the sun walking endless roads, climbing mountains and cross river beds. Children love to accompany us, and we ask them to show us any dogs in their neighbourhood, which is the best way not to miss any!

After just five days we have already vaccinated more than 9000 dogs and our education team has taught more than 7000 children essential information about rabies and dog bite prevention.

Our team of more than 50 local and 20 international volunteers is absolutely fantastic and everybody is working exceptionally hard to reach and vaccinate as many dogs as possible.

We also had good news from the family with the two rabid puppies I put to sleep in March: the children are doing very well, they have now completed their course of PEP injections and the mother of the puppies is also doing fine. The family even gave an interview to the BBC talking about their frightening experience when their own puppies got infected to raise awareness!

Until the end of May we will all work as hard as we can to make sure that in the future no more children have to fear developing this horrendous disease!

To continue our work in Malawi we need your support. You can make a real difference by giving either a one-off donation or you can sign up to give regular donations.