The Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has commenced scrutinising the Veterinary Practitioners Bill, 2023.
The Veterinary Practitioners Bill that was tabled for first reading on 20 June 2023 seeks to provide an institutional framework for the regulation of veterinary practice by providing for the training, registration and licensing of veterinary professionals and veterinary para-professionals, among others.
The Bill seeks to repeal and replace the Veterinary Surgeons Act, Cap. 277 came into force in 1958 and has never been amended.
While introducing the bill before the Committee on Tuesday, 04 July 2023, the State Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Fred Bwino Kyakulaga said the regulatory powers will be given to the Uganda Veterinary Council will be responsible for the issuance of licenses to veterinary practitioners to enforce professional conduct and responsibility.
“It will also enable the general public to identify competent professionals and weed out masqueraders and quacks from the profession,” Bwino said.
The bill is cognizant of the important role played by non-professionals who are offering veterinary services even without the requisite education or licence.
“We have village veterinary teams who are not trained but have learned through practice and are doing a good job. Our suggestion is to provide for this under clause 24,” he said.
Clause 24 of the bill provides exemptions to categories of people who can offer minor veterinary services without a license.
Such services may include, bloodless castration, bloodless dehorning, tailing of a lamb, earmarking of an animal and any other minor treatment intended to relieve pain in an animal.
Bwino also proposed that the committee interacts with animal production officers who are not categorized as veterinarians to ensure that their services are captured and regulated in the bill.
The Committee Chairperson, Hon. Janet Okori-Moe supported the proposal to exempt village veterinarians to allow them to continue offering minor animal treatment even without a licence.
“We have been struggling to get a veterinary doctor even at district level. Some of these people who operate at village level use indigenous knowledge which has always worked. We, therefore, welcome this idea,” Okori-Moe said.
Hon. Esther Mbayo (NRM, Luuka District) questioned the need to establish the Uganda Veterinary Council yet the government in its rationalization policy, is against the creation of new agencies and departments.
“We are in the era of rationalising MDAs and here we are creating a council, secretariat and the board. Are we doing ourselves a favour to go back where we are coming from?” Mbayo said.
Hon. Veronica Nanyondo (NUP, Bukomansimbi District) proposed that instead of creating a new council, the ministry should consider amending the Veterinary Surgeons Act Cap. 277 to empower the Uganda Veterinary Board established under the old law.
The 73-clause bill is expected to improve food security, improve animal health and welfare through reduced death of live animals, reduced milk yields, loss of sales due to quarantine, loss of breeding stock and reduced need for re-stocking.