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What We Do: The Big Picture

Line of small cows walking down a dirt road through a forested area with mountains in the background.

From the beginning, VWB/VSF has been careful to keep an eye on The Big Picture in designing and implementing projects around the world.

Cows and goats running down a dirt road with a farmer in the background

The Big Picture 

Across all of our projects, we focus on a few key issues - controlling rabies, ensuring women have access to livestock and training and educating community animal health workers in areas where there is no veterinarian. Throughout this, we always keep in mind the Ecohealth approach. 

What sets the Ecohealth approach apart from earlier ecological thinking is that it puts humans squarely in the middle of the frame. Based on natural sciences, it also takes human behaviour into account and ensures that people and communities are involved in the decisions that affect their health and environment. 

The animals that are the focus of VWB/VSF's work bring value to humans as a source of food, income, traction, and companionship, but they are both affected by and affect the environment in which they exist. They are part of a balance that includes land, water, population density, markets, culture, and tradition. 

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How We Can Help

Rabies Prevention Clinics

Although there is a rabies vaccine and it is a curable disease with timely post-exposure treatment, it continues to threaten human life in the developing world.

Estimates put the death toll at 70,000 people each year, nearly all in developing countries in Africa and Asia. Children are disproportionately affected – more than 60% of rabies deaths are in children under 15 years of age - 99% of them a result of dog bites. 

VWB/VSF has been working on this challenge since it was founded and we build rabies prevention clinics into our projects – our effort in Laos and Cambodia is a good example where over 5,000 dogs and cats have been vaccinated in the last five years.

Our Northern Animal Health Initiative also focuses heavily on providing rabies vaccines to underserved communities in the Canadian North

For VWB/VSF, any focus on zoonotic diseases must necessarily include attention to rabies. And while finding resources for rabies prevention may be a challenge, the disease will continue to be on our radar. 

View the Northern Health Initiative

Street dog lying on a dirty blanket.

Two women in Senegal with a herd of cattle.

Women & Livestock

Women do a lot of the farm work in Africa and Asia but often have little control over profit and production. However, at least 2/3 of poor livestock keepers in the world are women. They often own small livestock – poultry, goats and pigs – and even if they don't own cows, they often have control over the consumption of milk and the use of the profits from dairying.

For VWBs, these special circumstances mean that women are an important focus for livestock programming. By ensuring that women have access to livestock and training, we can ensure better nutrition for the entire family as well as income that will be used for household needs such as clothing, health care, and school fees.

As well, women have been engaged as group leaders and local educators and trained as Community Animal Health Workers (CAHW), providing both a new source of family income and a place of respect within the community.

Learn About the VETS Project

Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs)

Community animal health workers have become an important element of our approach to development. We embrace the notion that local people with an aptitude for animal care can be empowered to perform basic veterinary tasks.

In many of the countries where we work there are few veterinarians and most of those are government employees working at a supervisory level. Even if more vets were available, most small farmers would not be able to afford their services. CAHWs fill the gap.

Government veterinarians have learned that the value flows both ways as CAHWs are often the first to notice the emergence of new diseases or spot an outbreak in time to prevent a full epidemic.

VWB/VSF also works to ensure that CAHWs have access to the necessary medicines, vaccines, and supplies. 

Learn More About CAHWS

Man in the foreground holding a large stick over his shoulder with cattle out of focus in the background.

Stories From Around The World

Leaving No Woman Behind

Leaving No Woman Behind

To ensure ‘No woman is left behind’, the VWB VETS project has given specific focus to equipping women with skills and knowledge on improved dairy farm management.

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Youth Empowerment in Dairy Farming

Youth Empowerment in Dairy Farming

Meaningful youth engagement in agriculture is key to the improvement of the social wellbeing of communities as it plays a critical role in enhancing food security.

Read more

Volunteer report: Northern Canada adventure renews passion for these veterinarians

Volunteer report: Northern Canada adventure renews passion for these veterinarians

Over 16 days, a small group of volunteer veterinarians and registered veterinary technologists travelled to three communities in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut region of Canada.

Read more

  • The most rewarding part of my placements was helping others and seeing the many lives that are impacted along the way.
    - Nikki Sheedy

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