By Tech Sgt. Daniel St Pierre
CJTF-HOA Combat Camera
ISIOLO, Kenya – Treating more than 35,500 animals in just six field days over hundreds of miles throughout rural African villages could be a daunting task. But members of the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, or CJTF-HOA, did just that when they assisted with a Veterinary Civic Action Program, or VETCAP, in the Isiolo counties of Daaba, Ngaremara, and Oldonyiro—proving they were up to the challenge.
The VETCAP, which wrapped up Aug. 18, involved many groups working together. Local villagers, in partnership with the Isiolo district veterinary officer, or DVO, and his assistants, were joined by a representative of the international group Veterinaires Sans Frontieres-Suisse; members of the Kenyan military’s medical battalion; the Kenyan Ministry of Livestock; the U.S. Embassy-Kenya; the U.S. Agency for International Development; and CJTF-HOA’s 448th Civil Affairs Battalion.
“Everyone is eager to get out and work, to increase the knowledge base, and increase the partnership and sustainability," said U.S. Army Maj. Bradley Keough, a veterinary field officer with the 448th.
VETCAPs are designed to strengthen the capabilities of community based animal health workers through the treatment of animals to ensure livestock health, enhance agriculture and economic stability, and develop trust and confidence with partner nations. CJTF-HOA participates in many VETCAPs throughout East Africa.
During the Isiolo VETCAP, the 448thworked with the assistant DVO, to perform site visits, familiarize the veterinary assistants with how to use equipment, treated animals in the field, and presented kits for future care of animals.
"The community based animal health workers are very happy with this training because after the training they'll be given kits with some of the treatments they'll be using for their day-to-day work,” said Dr. Josphat Muema, Isiolo assistant DVO. “Also, now we are doing field treatments for the community. The community is also happy and the community based animal health workers are also happy because they are getting the practical aspect of what we are teaching them in the classrooms."
According to Kenyan army Capt. Marion Amulyoto, a veterinarian with the Kenyan military’s medical battalion, the field work is her favorite part of the mission
“Going out, seeing the animals, seeing the locals, seeing them get happy because the animals are being treated and going home -- it has been wonderful," she said.
Amulyoto is the only veterinarian in the Kenyan army and worked with the U.S. Army for the first time during this VETCAP.
While the Kenyan veterinarians are able to learn new techniques and treatments, the VETCAP also gives an opportunity for the U.S. veterinarians to help diagnose and treat many conditions and cases not found in America.
"This training is very beneficial to our community based animal health workers because it will help to build the capacity of the department. Also it can help us in terms of reporting diseases to us in the areas that we are not able to reach," said Muema.
In the end, the goal is for Isiolo to have more experienced veterinary staff and villagers, healthier livestock that will support their economy, and more medicine to keep their animals strong. The Kenyan army also gains a more experienced and knowledgeable veterinarian to teach those around her.