Vaccination programme affected as half of animal inspectors’ posts yet to be filled
With a little more than 60 per cent staff vacancies in the Animal Husbandry Department, even important vaccination drives and awareness campaigns struggle to meet targets.
Almost half of the posts of veterinary inspectors — the foot soldiers in census, vaccination and extension programmes — lie unfilled, while only seven of the sanctioned 57 posts of Veterinary assistants is filled.
Overall, a total of 254 personnel (out of 421 sanctioned) handle 120 animal husbandry-related institutions in the district (polyclinics, hospitals, training centres, extension centres, among others), and often one doctor handles around three institutions, said T.V. Halagappa, Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry.
The shortages directly affect the vaccination programmes. According to the state government’s notification, the foot-and-mouth disease vaccination programme for over 2.5 lakh cattle in the district will have to be undertaken within a month from August 12 to September 11. Even though the department here has informally extended the programme duration from August 1 to September 30, doctors struggle to cover the entire cattle population here.
One official said, on an average, around 5 per cent, or 12,500 cattle may be left unvaccinated after the deadline; and with other vaccination programmes coming up, it will be a difficult backlog to overcome.
While recruitment is done in meagre numbers every couple of years, the vacancies among doctors and veterinary inspectors is a reflection of the unpopularity of veterinary courses, believed Ishwara M., Assistant Director, Mangalore Taluk.
Shockingly, the recruitment for Group D workers – vital for their roles in cleaning, feeding the animals – has not occurred in over a decade, said Mr. Ishwara, and the nearly 74 per cent vacancy has made hospitalisation of livestock a difficult prospect.
The roles of these vacancies fall on the doctors and inspectors working there.
Unlike other districts, doctors here face the additional problems of having to visit the livestock at the villages itself.
“In other districts, cattle and sheep are brought to the veterinary hospital. Here, due to the undulating terrain and the remoteness of the villages, cattle herders cannot bring them to the taluk hospital. Instead, doctors have to go to individual villages,” said Mr. Halagappa, adding that the sample survey of cattle breeds in the region is another burden on the doctors.
Moreover, the department seems to have been assigned the jack-of-all-trades role, with some veterinary doctors also being nodal officers for schemes such as National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme – entailing a visit to numerous villages during their Gram Sabha meetings – Agricultural Technology Management Agency, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana .