MEET THE VET: DR ERICK MUTIZHE
SPANA vet Dr Erick Mutizhe is on the road for his latest mobile veterinary clinic, a busy two-week period in the field, which he alternates with SPANA Zimbabwe’s other vet, Dr Andy Garura.
This time Erick is travelling throughout Manicaland, a rural and isolated province in the eastern part of the country. Erick travels large distances in the mobile veterinary clinic to reach the many communities where animals require help and can treat as many as 600 donkeys during the fortnight. His day starts at 5.30am and owners arrive early in the morning with their donkeys for the clinics, which last until late into the afternoon.
So what are the main issues Erick encounters?
‘There is a great need for SPANA’s services in these areas. Wounds are a very common problem at the clinics, mostly caused by ill-fitting, makeshift harnesses. We also frequently treat eye conditions, diarrhoea, lameness and respiratory problems, as well as providing necessary deworming treatments and vaccinations against rabies – as many of the donkeys come into contact with other wildlife and bites pose a risk of infection.’
Erick believes SPANA has made an important difference in educating owners and improving the welfare of Zimbabwe’s rural donkey population.
‘SPANA has made a big impact in Zimbabwe. The overall health and wellbeing of the working donkeys has already improved and in the villages we visit, the owners are more educated about how certain practices can be detrimental to their animals’ health. Without SPANA the situation would be very bad, as no free and accessible treatments would be available. These animals would otherwise be neglected and donkey welfare would continue on a downward spiral. Thanks to SPANA, this is no longer the case.’
The scale of the challenge is great, but Erick is very optimistic about the future:
‘There is a great deal of work to do, but we are making significant progress in helping to improve animal welfare and this can only be good for working donkeys and the livelihoods of their owners and their families.’