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Overview: Community-based animal health workers, policies, and institutions (PLA 45)

Andy Catley, Tim Leyland

Journal article

This article provides some background information on community-based animal health workers (CAHW) in livestock development programmes. Using examples from the articles contained within this special issue, the authors document the progress made in this field since the mid 1990s. A short glossary of key terms and acronyms is also included.

Many of the more progressive recent developments in animal health have been focused around participatory epidemiology. For many, livestock is a source of food and income generation, and problems surrounding lack of access to veterinary services, drugs, and information can severely impact upon the quality of the animal healthcare available.This issue discusses community participation, policy, and institutional change. It highlights recent explorations and adaptations of participatory approaches that have been used to understand, and improve control of, diseases in animal populations. In particular, it examines the role of community-based animal health workers (CAHWs), who can be equipped to:
- diagnose and treat animal health problems;
- help with national strategies for vaccination;
- assist with disease surveillance;
- provide data for other forms of research; and
- play an important role in mobilising and informing communities about animal health issues.

The articles look at both the pros and cons of the CAHW approach, issues around training, remuneration, and effectiveness, and provide insightful, critical reflections for both policy-makers and donors alike. Also included are training tips, some more general articles on participatory approaches, and a comprehensive resources section.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board.

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