MEET THE COUNTRY DIRECTOR: DR YE HTUT AUNG
Professor Dr Ye Htut Aung, SPANA Myanmar Country Director, talks about a day in the life of a SPANA vet.
Can you tell us about your background?
I graduated as a vet from the University of Veterinary Science (UVS) in Yezin, Myanmar in 1993, before obtaining my M Phil in Veterinary Medicine and Master of Veterinary Science (MVSc). I studied for my doctoral degree at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover, Germany. I am Professor and Pro-Rector at UVS, and am now SPANA Myanmar’s Country Director.
What are the main challenges facing working animals in Myanmar?
The main problems are infectious diseases, such as foot and mouth disease, and malnutrition, particularly during the dry season.
How important are working animals in Myanmar?
Working animals are still very important in Myanmar, which remains on the list of Asia’s least developed countries. For instance, there are over 12 million working cattle in the country, and these animals are integral to rural economies, providing almost all the power in agricultural production and acting as a key mode of transport.
What are the main problems facing elephants used in the timber industry?
The main problems facing logging elephants are skin sores caused by harnesses, as well as infectious diseases. We are in the process of developing a new comfortable harness for elephants dragging heavy logs, which will help prevent rubbing and wounds. Infectious viral diseases are a major issue, since they are difficult to treat (particularly in young elephants) and Asian elephants are already endangered. We are looking to tackle the problem by conducting research into how we can prevent and control these diseases.
What are the key successes and your main goals?
Training for veterinary students in order to improve the standard of treatment given to working animals is a key part of SPANA Myanmar’s work. We have been very successful so far in developing the skills and knowledge of veterinary students by providing practical training on animal welfare, and the diagnosis and treatment of animal diseases.
In the coming year, in addition to training at the clinical skills centre, we will be helping newly-graduated vets to gain hands-on experience treating animals in the field – working under the supervision of SPANA vets during mobile veterinary clinic visits.