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LAND AFFAIRS AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE
5 May 2006
VETERINARY COUNCIL: BRIEFING
Documents handed out:
Veterinary Council Annual Report and Financial Statements for 1 April 2004 to 31 March 2005: Part 1 & 2 [volumes 37-39 not included, please email email@example.com]
Veterinary Council power point presentation
The Veterinary Council presented their Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2004/05. Members raised the following topics during the subsequent discussion: the naming of the Orange Free State Branch, the functions of the Veterinary Council, and cooperation with other countries, institutions and organisations
Presentation by the Veterinary Council
Dr B Stevenson (Veterinary Council member) gave the presentation that covered the nature, functions and members of the following institutions:
Mr A Worth (DA, Free State) referred to the power point presentation and noted that the Orange Free State no longer exists.
Dr Stevenson answered that he knew the Orange Free State no longer existed but that a branch of the Veterinary associations still called themselves "Orange Free State Branch."
The Chairperson asked why this group is resisting the changes.
Ms N Oliphant (ANC, KwaZulu-Natal) suggested that the Committee should visit the association on their next trip to the area.
Dr Stevenson replied that the associations are independent groups within the veterinarian profession and have nothing to do with the Council. The Council however cooperated with all organisations in the field. While all veterinarians must be registered with the Council, it is voluntary to join a veterinarian association. The associations are divided into geographic branches and specialist fields. About 60% of veterinarians are members of a veterinarian association. Because there is a freedom to associate, there is also freedom when naming the associations. He agreed that the name was ridiculous and that the Committee should visit the Free State area and meet with the provincial Department of Agriculture as well as the veterinarians and the association.
Mr Worth also asked how the Veterinary Council interacts with the SADC countries (Southern African Development Community), if they offered bursaries for students and if they conducted research. He also asked for more clarity about the Council’s finances.
Dr Stevenson replied that the Council cooperated with SADC countries through the Department of Agriculture. It had been aimed to make education in all Sub Saharan countries uniform to enable a free flow of professionals between the countries. A meeting between the Deans from all veterinarian faculties in Sub Saharan Africa took place, but the aim of uniform education could not be reached because of variable standards at the different Universities.
Dr Stevenson noted that it is the Department of Agriculture and not the Council who is responsible for bursaries. The Council conducts research that is necessary for the profession but the Universities and Departments conduct other research. The members of the council receive a honorarium and not salaries. The honorarium does not make up for the lost days, but was implemented to attract professional veterinarians instead of just academics and technicians.
Ms N Dlulane (ANC, Eastern Cape) noted that UIF (Unemployment Insurance Fund) is very important and asked why the Council contributed such a small amount.
Dr Stevenson replied that the Council only paid UIF for their seven members and that the veterinarians themselves were responsible for paying UIF for their employees.
Ms Oliphant said that people in rural areas did not use veterinarian clinics or institutions. She asked how the Council and Department informed them about animal health and how this information reached people on the ground.
Mr F Adams (ANC, Western Cape) asked why there were no animal health clinics in the townships.
Dr Stevenson replied that the Council did not decide where clinics should be opened. The government may want to intervene in this process in the future but for now the matter was controlled by the market.
Mr Worth noted that the Department of Agriculture complained about lack of skills in the field and asked if South Africa were losing veterinarians to other countries.
Ms Oliphant asked if and how blacks were encouraged to take up the profession.
Dr Stevenson answered that the MEDUNSA (Medical University of Southern Africa) used to produce the best veterinarians but the Department of Education decided to close the veterinarian faculty in 1988/89 due to financial concerns. He was concerned because the Veterinary Faculty at the UP (University of Pretoria) is now the only veterinarian faculty. He wrote a letter to the Minister of Education where he expressed his concern and suggested that UP must reach an object to produce about 30 to 40 veterinarians annually and that UP should be penalised if this target were not met. He has also suggested that the faculty provide slots for the different provinces to get more applications. There was however a large number of black students, about 1.6 non-black per 1 black student, and they did not usually leave the country. 90% of black veterinarians worked for government. There were 70% females students. Although this development was positive most females prefer small animals and there was a need for veterinarians who wanted to work with large animals.
The Chairperson noted that there were 558 complaints last year and asked how these figures should be understood.
Dr Stevenson said that 15% of the complaints came from other veterinarians and 85% came from clients. The client is the one who brings the animal. Clients complain mostly about fees because veterinarians often did not give a price upfront, or notify the client when the treatment would be more expensive than initially agreed.
Ms Oliphant asked about the functions of the Fee Committee and why they met only once a year.
Dr Stevenson answered that the Fee Committee worked specifically with fees and met once a year to review the guidelines on how to estimate the fees for geographic and socio-economic concerns.
Mr Worth asked about the prepaid fees.
Dr Stevenson answered that medical technicians who were not yet registered sent their fees to the Council in advance.
Mr Adams asked if and how the Council cooperated with the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), Elsenburg Agricultural College and other institutions. He also asked what the Council would do when a disease broke out.
Ms Dlulane asked what to do about problems with cats where she lived since the SPCA would not help.
Dr Stevenson replied that when disease broke out, the national and provincial departments of agriculture would publish information to educate farmers, veterinarians and others. A Dr Masanii has for instance distributed information concerning the avian virus. About the relationship with SPCA and other welfare organisations, he noted that the SPCA did not have money to hire veterinarians. The SPCA however conducted supervised training for people without education and the Council registered these people. Regarding Ms Dlulane’s problem with stray cats, he suggested she put more pressure on the provincial SPCA or buy cat traps.
Consideration and Adoption of Reports
The Committee considered and adopted the following reports without discussion:
-Veterinary Council Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2004/05
-Independent Auditors on Financial Statements Report for 2004/05
-Department on Land Affairs - Report and Financial Statement of Vote 30 for 2004/05
-Auditor-General on the Financial Statements of Vote 30 Report for 2004/05
-Minutes for 23 March 2005
The meeting was adjourned.
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