To support VFU staff and extension workers, DCA developed several ‘Herd Health Packages’ (HHPs). These packages offer background information for the extension professional and ready to use extension materials to distribute among the farmers.
Within DCA, a special Extension Core Group is tasked with the development of these HHPs. Presently there are five packages, dealing with:
• small ruminants
• large ruminants
• the role of women in livestock health and production, and
• veterinary public health (VPH).
The VPH package focuses on awareness of zoonotic diseases (those diseases that are transmitted from animals to people), and hygiene. It describes topics like proper disease prevention, hygiene in handling animals, and safety in food preparation.
A sixth HHP for Kuchi livestock owners is under development, and a seventh on Cashmere harvesting will be prepared as well. DCA aims at developing a series of HHPs for each animal species / farming situation. Every HHP offers a specific set of best practices that farmers need to know for optimal care of their animals.
Each HHP booklet contains fact sheets, picture sheets, and posters. The fact sheets provide technical information for the (para)vet to refresh his or her knowledge on the topic involved. For each fact sheet, there is also an accompanying picture sheet for distribution to the farmers. As most of the farmers involved are illiterate, mainly pictures and symbols are used in the extension training. By viewing the pictures, the farmer can recognize the signs of important diseases. The pictures also advise him/her on what to do and when to visit the VFU for vaccination or treatment of his/her animals.
The extension packages are available in Dari as well as in Pashtu, the two national languages of Afghanistan. So these are suitable for extension to the main ethnic groups in Afghanistan. All DCA extension materials, including the HHPs, are free to be used by other NGOs. Several NGOs make use of them already. The Ministry of Public Health showed an interest in the DCA veterinary public health package as well.