Questions about veterinary paraprofessionals

AgricultureLivestock and beekeeping

Notes to broadcasters

Notes to broadcasters

The market for illegal animal medicines is estimated at 1-2 billion US globally, and is particularly high in sub-Saharan Africa. These black market products are often ineffective or even harmful to animal and human health. Many people who offer animal health services are “quacks.” They have no formal training in animal health and may provide inaccurate advice and sell illegal products. It is difficult for farmers to determine from whom they can buy effective products and get good advice.

Veterinary paraprofessionals undertake formal training and are certified by a national veterinary statutory body to provide animal health services (Ugandan Veterinary Board, Nigeria Veterinary Council). Farmers can turn to veterinary paraprofessionals as trusted sources of advice and suppliers of quality veterinary medicines.

It is also important for farmers to understand that veterinary paraprofessionals do not just treat sick animals—they can also provide advice and care to prevent animals from getting sick. And prevention is better than treatment!

A preventive approach avoids the costs of treatment, including the cost of lost production (decreased milk, fertility, etc.), the cost of the treatment itself (veterinary drugs, the time of the VPP, and the time of the farmer to administer treatment), and, when treatment fails—the cost of death. The cost of prevention through vaccination or implementing improved husbandry and biosecurity measures is often much less than treatment.

By interviewing VPPs and farmers, you can highlight the range of services offered by VPPs and the benefits of preventive measures such as vaccination, biosecurity, improved nutrition and housing, and control of parasites.

There are many negative and unfounded stereotypes about women VPPs. Through your interviews, you can help break down these stereotypes by showing that women VPPs are knowledgeable and competent animal health service providers, and by sharing positive feedback from farmers satisfied with services received from women VPPs.

The questions in this document are designed to help broadcasters conduct interviews with veterinary paraprofessionals and with the livestock keepers who use their services, or who would benefit from using their services. They can help you create informative programming about the roles that VPPs play in ensuring optimum livestock health, the benefits for farmers of using VPP services, and the value of women VPPs.

Some of the concepts that arise during your interview might be technical or scientific. Always ask your interviewee(s) to explain these concepts in clear and simple terms that any listener can understand. If a guest uses a complicated or technical term, always ask them to explain it—even if you understand, your listeners may not.

Please also note that veterinary paraprofessionals have different designations in different countries. For example, while they are called VPPs in Uganda and Nigeria, they are known as animal health technicians in South Africa.

Note: Interview both men and women VPPs on your radio show. To change any negative stereotypes or perceptions by farmers, it’s important to feature competent women VPPs on air.

Also, when searching for farmers to interview, ask the VPPs you are interviewing to nominate farmers that they serve, so that you can interview famers who have worked with a VPP before. Ensure that you interview both women and men farmers, and some farmers who have worked with women VPPs.


Suggested questions for private sector veterinary paraprofessionals

  1. Please introduce yourself and explain what you do in your work as a VPP.
  2. Please tell us about the type of farming communities you typically engage with.
  3. Please tell us about the range of services you provide to both women and men farmers.
  4. What aspects of your work as a VPP do you find most fulfilling or enjoyable?
  5. What inspires you to work as a VPP? What makes you passionate about your work as a VPP?
  6. What training did you undertake to become a VPP?
  7. How can you help farmers improve animal health and production? Please explain.
  8. Please share some examples where your advice and recommendations have made a positive difference to the farmers you serve.
  9. What are the most important measures a farmer can take to keep their herd/flock healthy, and prevent them from getting sick? (Probe further on vaccination, biosecurity, control of parasites, and nutrition as necessary, asking what each type of care and describing its benefits.)
  10. Why should a livestock keeper use the services of a veterinary paraprofessional rather than buying products and treating animals themselves?
  11. There are many black market veterinary drugs which are cheap and easily available. Why should farmers avoid buying them? What are the main risks for livestock and human health?
  12. Where can farmers buy quality veterinary drugs?
  13. Do VPPs sell quality veterinary drugs?
  14. If farmers would like you to visit their farms and provide advice, how can they contact you?

Suggested questions for representatives from the VPP association, Vet Association Veterinary Statutory Body, or state veterinary services

  1. What kinds of animal health services do veterinary paraprofessionals provide in this country?
  2. What kind of animal health services do veterinary paraprofessionals NOT provide in this country?
  3. Where can livestock keepers get the services not provided by veterinary paraprofessionals?
  4. Do women work as veterinary paraprofessionals as well as men? Do veterinary paraprofessionals always work for the government in this country, or do some work as private business persons?
  5. How do the roles of government VPPs and private sector VPPs differ?
  6. Do I need to pay for animal health services provided by private sector VPPs?
  7. What are the different types of animal health professionals—veterinarians, VPPs, and community animal health workers—and how can I tell the difference between them?
  8. How is the animal health sector regulated?
  9. Is there a professional body which regulates the animal health sector?
  10. How can a farmer tell the difference between a veterinary paraprofessional and a “quack”?
  11. What kind of educational qualifications are veterinary paraprofessionals required to have before being certified to practice as a VPP?
  12. Why should a livestock keeper use the services of a veterinary paraprofessional rather than buying products and treating themselves?
  13. Will veterinary paraprofessionals come to my farm to treat my animals?
  14. How do VPPs work with veterinarians?
  15. What is the difference between a veterinary paraprofessional and a community animal health worker?
  16. I understand that veterinary paraprofessionals offer preventative care for livestock. Please explain what this means and provide a few examples.
  17. Why should farmers invest in preventive healthcare? How does it benefit their farm’s productivity?
  18. How does the work of veterinary paraprofessionals help rural communities?
  19. What are the risks of purchasing veterinary drugs from a local trader (black market)?
  20. If there are find cheap veterinary drugs on the markets, why should I bother calling a VPP when I can just treat the animal myself?

Suggested questions for livestock keepers about veterinary paraprofessionals

  1. Have you ever used the services of a certified veterinary professional?
  2. Were you satisfied with their services? Please explain.
  3. Would you recommend the services of a veterinary paraprofessional to other livestock keepers? Why or why not?
  4. If you haven’t used the services of a veterinary paraprofessional, please explain why.
  5. Do you know what kinds of services veterinary paraprofessionals offer and do not offer? Please explain.
  6. Is it easy or difficult to access services from a veterinary paraprofessional in this area? Please explain.
  7. Do you need more information about veterinary paraprofessionals before deciding whether or not to use their services? If so, what do you need to know?
  8. What should veterinary paraprofessionals who want to offer services in your community know about the livestock keepers and the common livestock health problems in this area?
  9. Have you ever used the services of a woman who offers animal health care services, including a woman veterinary paraprofessional?
  10. If you did and liked her services, please describe in detail what you liked.
  11. What measures do you take to prevent your livestock from getting sick? Please describe. (Probe as necessary on vaccination, control of ticks and other parasites, biosecurity measures, and other measures.)
  12. Please describe what you do in detail?
  13. What benefits have you seen on your farm from taking these measures?)


Contributed by: Vijay Cuddeford, Managing editor, Farm Radio International

Reviewed by: Holly Hufnagel, VPP Project Coordinator, FAO, Emma Alegi, Gender Specialist, FAO.

Information sources

This resource is funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations under the project “Sustainable Business in Animal Health Service Provision through training for Veterinary Paraprofessionals.”