Empowering the private sector to improve veterinary service delivery in Ethiopia

Livestock keepers in Ethiopia’s Oromia and Amhara regions are enjoying improved animal health services following increased involvement of the private sector in the veterinary service delivery system.

This is the result of ongoing trials of eight public-private partnership (PPP) models by the government and the European Union-funded Health of Ethiopian Animals for Rural Development or HEARD project to improve the knowledge, skills and attitudes of veterinary service providers in the country. Farmers in Oromia (Negelle Arsi and Dire Inchini), Somali (Hargelle and Deghabour woredas) and Amhara (Bati, Banja and Bahir Dar Zuria) regions are among the first beneficiaries of the program.

Aligned with the Ministry of Agriculture’s draft Veterinary Services Rationalization Road Map, the models are facilitating veterinary services rationalization under the OIE guidelines for Public-Private Partnerships in the veterinary domain in the following areas.

  1. Private vaccination service: Government delegates private sector to provide vaccination services for specific diseases at cost.
  2. Designation of woreda private sector partners to deliver vaccination service: Government avails vaccines for woreda private providers to link with kebele animal/human health posts and community animal health workers (CAHWs) to provide vaccination services at Kebele level.
  3. Designation of regional-woreda-kebele private sector partners for vaccination service: Government avails vaccinations for specific diseases to regional private service providers who will subcontract woreda level private providers who will then subcontract CAHWs at kebele level to deliver vaccination services.
  4. Mobile clinical service: Government provides enabling environment and regulatory service, private sector provides clinical services to villages on request and livestock producers pay for the full cost of the service.
  5. Clinical service by regional-woreda-kebele private clinics: Government creates enabling environment for the private sector to provide all clinical services in designated kebeles. Regional cooperative clinics will provide drugs to woreda clinics who will work with kebele CAHWs to deliver clinical services for pastoralists.
  6. Community-based women vaccinators for Newcastle Disease control in chickens: Government trains women vaccinators and provide them with vaccination kits to provide community-based vaccination service for the control of Newcastle Disease at predetermined fees.
  7. Strategic community-based endo- and ectoparasite control by private service providers: Government designates woreda level clinics and drug shops to provide strategic community-based deworming and spraying against external parasites.
  8. Leasing kebele public animal health posts to jobless veterinary graduates: Renting government owned Kebele animal health posts to enable graduates provide clinical, vaccination, and health extension services in collaboration with the woreda government clinics.

Animal vaccination in Ethiopia has historically been provided by the government, but the new ‘private vaccination service’ is exploring ways of increasing participation of the private sector in veterinary service delivery.

Rabies vaccine
A dose of the rabies vaccine is prepared for dog vaccination in Machakos County Kenya (photo credit Geoffrey Njenga, ILRI)

Under this approach, governments create an enabling environment by licensing the private sector to carry out vaccination services for specific diseases such as, rabies, Newcastle Disease, and facilitating access to government facilities and delivering inputs. The government monitors and evaluates the quality of services. Using these advantages, the private sector provides vaccines and other health products to livestock producers in woredas and kebeles at cost.

Since 2019, HEARD has been empowering private veterinary service providers through training and equipment. So far, 300 service providers including drug shop operators, veterinary input supplier, and veterinarians have received entrepreneurship and business skills training. Six of these providers have also received basic veterinary kits (surgical, obstetric, and post-mortem kits) and vaccination equipment.

Desalew Mekonnen, a 32-year-old veterinarian in Gojjam town, in Injibara Woreda, has been providing veterinary services through his Desalegn Medium Clinic to the Enjebara community for the past six years. These include vaccination services against rabies, anthrax, black leg and Newcastle diseases, services that were solely provided by the public sector in the past. With the capacity building support from the HEARD project team, Desalew says he understands the needs of farmers in his area better and they are happy with the improved access and quality of the service.

The second PPP model, a ‘mobile clinical service’ in Oromia’s Dire Inchini woreda, involves partnerships between the public sector, the private sector and livestock producers. The regional and woreda livestock offices and regional PPP taskforce will support private service providers to obtain licenses for mobile clinical service and drug sales and facilitate a waiver from the woreda office for the drug shop to practice mobile clinical services. The private sector provides mobile clinics in villages on request and livestock keepers pay for the full cost of the service while woreda animal health units will be responsible for regulation and quality assurance.  

Under the PPP model the project is also supporting recent veterinary graduates to offer animal health services in communities. An example is Firomsa Gelako, who after winning HEARD’s ‘Innovative Entrepreneurial Initiative Award’ for young veterinary graduates and small-scale veterinary service providers, received support to set up and acquire permits for the Sebafen Veterinary Clinic in Dire Inchini. The clinic currently serves communities in three kebeles in Oromia.

Negeso Fula, another veterinarian in Oromia, has received various veterinary kits from the project and currently provides mobile clinic services to farmers in the Arsi Negele area. He says there is a high demand for veterinary services.

I often receive calls late at night from the farmers who need help. But in many cases, I have to walk long distances on foot to provide the services.

He credits the project for the entrepreneurial and business skills that have helped him understand farmers need better and provide competitive and quality services.

Support from regional task forces

Regional task forces consisting of 12-13 members, led by a chairman from the public sector and a secretary from the private sector, were officially formed in Somali, Oromia and Amhara regions in November 2019. They support the PPP model testing in the three regions. Each task force is comprised of private service providers (clinics, drug shops, veterinary input suppliers), livestock producers, public health service providers (veterinarians from regional and woreda offices including regional health service directors), laboratories and universities. Read the Regional PPP taskforce formation report to learn more about the taskforce.

A final report with lessons learned, challenges and opportunities from testing the PPP models will be shared with the Ministry of Agriculture to guide the implementation of the successful animal health service delivery models.

Alongside the PPP’s model roll out, the project is also improving the technical competencies (knowledge, skills and attitudes) of veterinary service providers to deliver better and rationalized services. This work is supported by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Ethiopian Veterinary Association.