Animal Health Technician

CCS program…. Good or bad?

I am a twenty-eight-year-old male who studied for a while to become a veterinarian.  As we were nearing the end of our studies I got excited to, at last, finish and start doing my own thing. When we were notified about COMPULSORY veterinary community service, many of us did not like this idea at all.  It felt like they were now adding to another year before I can go and do what I studied for such a long time.

Many already-practicing-veterinarians were very negative about the idea of newly qualified veterinarians flooding the market and entering the area with ease without the risk of sacrificing anything.

My personal experience, of the addition of another year to my studies was quickly changed as my mentor was very pleasant and good and the community she introduced me to welcomed my presence with open arms.  After the first introductions, the community started asking questions and overwhelmed my brain.  I immediately realised that CCS was not going to be a walk in the park, and that I was not only going to sign papers for the rest of the CCS year.

I saw a lot of interesting cases, from early in the year onwards, some diseases did not follow the normal textbook presentations, especially with arthropod borne diseases, in this above-normal-rainy season experienced in 2017.

Redwater does not always show up on the blood smear, Lumpy skin disease does not always present in bumps all over the body, and some people have never heard of dewormers, no matter what it is named.

Some diseases, such as calf diphtheria presented and was successfully treated. Wounds on cattle were sutured and lumps were removed. This helps a lot to improve surgical techniques in large animals, including suture strength, reducing tension on wounds and haemostasis, all of which, I think, are more of a challenge in large animals that cannot be bandaged and given cage rest.

Most of the people in the community will not let you leave empty handed as Zulu culture does not allow visitors to do so. I am rewarded in sugarcane, maize cobs, pomegranates, biscuits and coke just to name a few.
I am given the chance to develop my own decisions and regimens on how to best treat or not to treat and decide on different treatment options.

If you start working for someone with lots of experience as a newly qualified veterinarian, then I think it’s easy to become a replica of that veterinarian as you learn only their treatment options and never develop your own confidence or thinking.

With all of this said I must also say that the private veterinarians in my area are very helpful and never hesitate to help, sometimes even outside of their working hours. I think if a good relationship is developed between the new graduates and established veterinarians that it is a win-win situation, where good veterinarians and good relationships are created.

Overall, I think this program is good for developing confidence, exploring areas in South Africa that you never thought about and maybe even learning a new language. You get an opportunity to teach rural communities more about animal husbandry, animal welfare and care. This is good for the veterinary profession, for exposing people to a more rural setting where you learn to adapt without always having all diagnostics available and it creates awareness of treatment of animals in areas where it was never used. To find out how to handle a CCS veterinarian in your area please phone the veterinarians in Dundee as they are a perfect example.


Paul Reynolds
CCS veterinarian (Dundee, Nquthu area)

Links to African Council websites

Veterinary Statutory Bodies in Africa

Veterinary Council of Namibia

Veterinary Council of Zimbabwe (department of livestock and veterinary services)

Kenya Veterinary Board

Veterinary Council of Tanzania

Botswana Veterinary Association

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