Import and distribution
The bazaars in Afghanistan offer a lively market-place for amongst other things trade in pharmaceuticals. Due to quality medicines and vaccines being expensive, livestock owners tend to buy their veterinary pharmaceuticals at the bazaar. However, many of the vaccines and medicines sold there are counterfeit, expired or stored improperly. As a result, they are not effective, and do not give the expected protection or cure. Ensuring the availability of quality vaccines and medicines has always been one of DCA’s main aims.
From the start of the veterinary programme in 1988, DCA imported quality vaccines from abroad. At the same time, the Afghanistan Veterinary Association took care of the importation of quality medicines. DCA distributed these pharmaceuticals to the VFU staff for treating the local livestock. In the beginning, vaccinations and treatments were subsidised. The farmers therefore could see themselves the effects of the pharmaceuticals for free. Once the livestock owners experienced that the vaccines and medicines really worked, they were readily prepared to pay for them.
Vaccines are sensitive biological products. They may become less effective, or even destroyed, when exposed to temperatures outside the recommended range (+2 to +8 oC) and/or exposed to direct sunlight. The vaccines should be stored in a refrigerator and kept cool, until they are used in the field. For this purpose DCA established a cold chain, ensuring the right storage temperature from producer to client. The chain starts with the producers keeping the vaccine at the proper temperature for transportation. At arrival in Kabul, the vaccines are stored in large cold stores. The challenge was that many VFUs had no access to reliable electricity and to solve this problem upon graduation each paravet receives a solar-powered refrigerator for his or her VFU. For cooled transportation of the vaccines in the field, DCA distributes cool-boxes to the VFU staff. In that way a complete cold chain is created, providing the vaccines are kept at the correct temperature until used.
For many years, DCA continued to import and distribute veterinary vaccines and medicines for VFU staff and other veterinary professionals. However, for reasons of sustainability, DCA decided to privatise these activities. A commercial company was set up, called VetServ.
VetServ was officially registered as independent enterprise in January 2011. It imports quality veterinary vaccines, medicines, and equipment from well-known companies around the world. The company is responsible for maintaining and expanding the cold chain, developed by DCA. To support and guide VetServ’s development, DCA became shareholder of the company. Gradually, DCA’s shares are transferred to VetServ’s Executive Director. During the years, VetServ has proven to be a successful and profitable enterprise. Although being an independent company, VetServ has committed itself to work in line with the mission of DCA: to improve animal health and production in Afghanistan.