The Adventures of Neddy the Paravet: The Value of Indigenous Veterinary Practices

Livestock and beekeeping

Notes to broadcasters

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Many of your listeners are probably familiar with community health workers. Animal health workers are also becoming more common. These workers are also known as barefoot vets or ‘paravets’. They are trained to diagnose illnesses and administer medicines and vaccines. This script promotes animal health care workers as an important part of the animal health care system. This drama can be used in a series with script 8 in this package (‘The adventures of Neddy the Paravet: Fodder trees provide nutritious livestock feed all year’). We suggest that you develop further episodes that discuss livestock health and feature Neddy’s experience as an Animal Health Worker.

Farmers have been preventing and treating livestock illness for generations. Many of their techniques are effective. They have learned to recognize symptoms, create medical tools (bamboo syringes, stone tourniquets), prepare nourishing rations, and develop remedies using local medicinal plants. Because imported medicines are often expensive, unavailable, or incorrectly administered, there is a strong argument in favour of promoting indigenous veterinary practices (ethnoveterinary medicine) that have proven to be safe and effective. This script emphasizes the practice of using medicinal plants to treat illness in livestock. Before using plants for animal health care, farmers should be sure they have selected the correct plant. Choosing and administering the wrong plant mixture could harm the animals



-Animal Health Worker. Young man, enthusiastic and energetic.
Uncle Chekwa
-Farmer. Neddy’s uncle.

Scene 1

Uncle Chekwa:
(surprised) Nedd! This is a surprise! I didn’t expect to see you here today.

Hello Uncle!

Uncle Chekwa
: You know, it’s good to see you. There’s something I’d like to discuss. I’ve been worried about my chickens. They’re sick with diarrhea. I called the veterinarian to come two days ago. If he doesn’t come soon – I don’t know what I’ll do. Where could he be?

: Well, um, … I’m right here!

What?! You’re not the veterinarian!!

: (laughing) Well that’s true Uncle, I’m not the veterinarian. But I am the new Animal Health Worker for this village. I went to a workshop in town several months ago. I learned how to diagnose animal illness, recommend simple remedies, and give vaccines. And now I’m qualified! So let’s go and have a look at your chickens.

Scene 2


Uncle Chekwa:
Well, here we are. You can see the chickens are sickly.

Yes. Now let’s see. You mentioned the hens have diarrhea. Have you noticed what colour? Green, white, grey? Does it have a bad smell?

Uncle Chekwa:
Yes, a very bad small. And it’s green and watery.

Hmmm. It could be Newcastle Disease, or maybe a bacterial infection. In fact, it could be a number of things. For now though, we should treat the diarrhea so the chickens get better.

Uncle Chekwa:
Do you have a medicine for this?

Uncle, there’s something I have to tell you about that. There’s a shortage of medicines these days – almost nothing is available. But there is a way we can treat your chickens immediately, by using the medicines in your medicine box.

Uncle Chekwa
: I’m not sure I understand …what do you mean by that?

I’m talking about the medicine box in your garden – the leaves and seeds from your plants and trees. The ones that you always used to treat sickness in your family…AND in your animals. I learned how to prepare some of these remedies in the training course I attended. But of course I had already learned about many of the medicinal plants from you!

Uncle Chekwa
: It’s true that I used to use medicinal trees and plants. But these days, with the modern medicines, I don’t use those old methods.

Well, it doesn’t mean that those old remedies aren’t good any more. And, at a time like this, when no other medicines are available, they can serve you well. Especially because you have tested them for so many years, and you know they work.
Tell me, what would you normally use to treat diarrhea in your chickens?

Uncle Chekwa:
I would crush a few cloves of that garlic that’s growing over there, and mix it with the feed for two or three days. Generally the diarrhea will clear after two days with this treatment.

: This remedy has always worked for you before. Why not now? Let’s try it.


Some of the old traditional remedies used by our elders are still valuable. When properly prepared and administered, they can be very effective.If you use plants to cure animal diseases, make sure you choose the right plant for the right disease. And give the animal the exact amount necessary. Ask for advice from the people in your community who have tested and have used these preparations for a long time.


Contributed by Jennifer Pittet, Thornbury, Ontario, Canada.

Reviewed by Ngeh Toyang, Ethnoveterinary Specialist, Kakwa Biofarm, PO Box 5001, Bamenda, Cameroon.

Information sources

Paraveterinary medicine: An information kit on low-cost health care practices, 1996. International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, Silang, Cavite, Philippines.

Ethnoveterinary medicine in Kenya: A field manual of traditional animal health care practices, 1996. Intermediate Technology Development Group and International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, Nairobi, Kenya.

Ethnoveterinary medicine in Asia: An information kit on traditional animal health care practices (4 volumes), 1994. International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, Silang, Cavite, Philippines.

“How can ethnoveterinary medicine be used in field projects?”, by Evelyn Mathias, Indigenous Knowledge and Development Monitor, Volume 4, Issue 2, August 1996.

Medicinal Uses of Upland Vegetation, Fact Sheet, 1994. International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, Silang, Cavite, Philippines.