Veterinarians do provide an essential service too


SINCE the first movement control order triggered by the pandemic, veterinarians in various fields in Malaysia have been working to uphold the well-being of animals and public health despite the risk of contracting Covid-19.

Behind the scenes, we ensure that sick animals receive prompt treatment, people have enough supply of safe and contamination- free table meats and eggs, and pet owners who spend more time working from home are protected from potential zoonotic diseases.

Given the importance of veterinary services, the World Organi-sation for Animal Health and the World Veterinary Association advocate for veterinary services to be considered essential.

In Malaysia, although some parties have questioned the “essentiality” of veterinary services during the lockdown, the International Trade and Industry Ministry included veterinary services, along with the agriculture, aquaculture and livestock sectors, as an essential service allowed to operate during the MCO with strict adherence to SOP.

With the Covid-19 vaccines, we see a light of hope to end the pandemic. Phase 1 of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Prog-ramme covered the vaccination of frontliners such as public and private healthcare personnel. Defence and security personnel also received the vaccination.

Phase 2 of the programme, which began yesterday, targets senior citizens, people in high-risk groups, and people with disabilities.

However, there has been no mention of veterinarians in either phase even though the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone who provides veterinary services should be prioritised in Covid-19 vaccine distribution plans as front-line essential workers.

Somehow, this is not surprising, as veterinary services in Malaysia are often taken for granted. We provide an essential service but are we frontliners?

DR ANTHONY LEONG ZI PING , DVM, PhD Kuala Lumpur

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