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DAFF Briefs Parliament on Veterinary Bill

August 2, 2012

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

The agriculture, forestry and fisheries department has briefed the national assembly’s agriculture committee on the Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Professions Amendment Bill in Parliament.

The bill proposes that recent graduates in the veterinary field complete one year of community service after registration.

The bill was tabled in Parliament in June 2012.

The agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, made mention of the proposed amendments to the act during her budget vote speech last year.

At the time, the minister stressed that wide-ranging veterinary services and additional professionals were needed to deal with outbreaks of animal sicknesses in South Africa.

According to the minister, it was likely that the veterinary profession will support the proposed changes such as community service.

The proposed legislation would also help to address the current shortage of state veterinarians.

She added that community service would provide a minimum of 100 jobs per annum.

The bill also seeks to:

• Set up an appeal committee;
• To include physiological condition in the definition of veterinary services;
• To allow for registration of a graduated person to whom the degree has not yet been conferred;
• Ensure continued registration of a foreign vet who has received citizenship or permanent residency status;
• Facilitate continuing professional development;
• Provide for suspension of registered persons;
• Set down appointment process for inspectors as well as their powers;
• Outline how complaints are to be investigated ; and
• Allow for cost orders on registered veterinarians.

Leading up to the formulation of the bill, the department had identified a number of challenges facing the veterinary profession in South Africa.

Some of these include:

• Shortage of veterinarians to meet demand in the agricultural sector
• High levels of emigration of newly qualified vets
• Predominance of vets in the urban areas to the detriment of rural communities

The committee called for comment on the bill around the middle of July.

During the briefing, the department outlined its objectives in seeking higher levels of economic growth and transformation in the agricultural sector.

The objectives include:

• Reducing the costs of food;
• Job creation;
• Improving workers standards of living;
• Increasing the quality and quantity of exports; and
• Using natural resources in a sustainable manner.

In terms of the envisaged compulsory community service for veterinarians, the department listed some of the benefits that would flow from this.

These include:

• Addressing small number of state veterinarians
• Helping with rising number of disease outbreaks
• Increasing access to veterinary services in rural areas
• Alleviating food security concerns
• Trying to stem immigration of newly-qualified veterinarians