70% of veterinary school graduates are determined to care not for cows but for small domestic animals. Photo: GettyImages
AIDS, Covid, Ebola, etc. came to the human world from the animal world. Or animals contributed to their distribution. Therefore, the health of domestic, productive and wild animals is a matter of our survival, writes our intelligence correspondent Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
A doctor treats a human, a veterinarian treats humanity. This phrase belongs to the founder of the Society of Practical Veterinarians Sergey Evseenko. Society was created a century and a half ago, but the phrase is not outdated. “The difference between a human and a monkey is much smaller than the difference between a dog and a cat,” says Professor Alexei Ermakov. “But ‘human’ doctors do not treat monkeys, while a veterinarian has to treat a dog, a cat, a fish and a bird. The low quality of veterinary education harms the country’s economy and has many indirect losses. On the contrary, the high quality of the veterinary formation is an investment in human capital. “The more highly qualified specialists there are in the country, the more competitive the state as a whole is.”
I speak with Alexei Ermakov, Dean of the School of Industrial and Veterinary Medicine at Don State Technical University, during the break of the All-Russian Conference on Veterinary Education. For the first time in 100 years, such a forum is held. Although the reform of veterinary education is not just overdue, but overdue. 55 universities train veterinarians and paramedics, 30 thousand students study. But a third of them – in absentia, which, according to the president of the Association of Acting Veterinarians Sergei Serenda, “undermines the biological safety of the state.”
Do you need a pool vet? Aleksey Mikhailovich, universities graduate 4,000 specialists a year, which is more than necessary. But rural veterinarians are in short supply. Why do veterinarians treat cats and dogs but are reluctant to treat cows?
Alexey Ermakov: Working conditions in the village are different. Out of 10 graduates, 7 to 9 want to stay in the city and work with small animals. Who wants to go to the village when there are no normal conditions. Here the Ministry of Agriculture demands from the universities: do not teach how to behave in cats and dogs, they teach how to behave in cows! But it does not work that way. A young man wants his children to visit the pool. In order for experts to come to the village, infrastructure needs to be created.
Rural infrastructure is a matter for the state. But the state can not increase wages on agricultural holdings, this is a private enterprise.
Alexey Ermakov: Large agricultural holdings send students to study in Germany. They pay the experts 150 thousand rubles. By rural standards, this is crazy money. Therefore, this is not a problem of education, but of development of our villages.
Obstetricians, veterinarians, gynecologists, cardiologists and ophthalmologists are already training 23 million Russian dogs. Photo: EPA
But the average salary of a veterinarian in the Moscow region is 58 thousand rubles. There are areas where they pay much less. Five years of study to make money like that? And then there is the two-year stay …
Alexey Ermakov: Why five years of teaching is not enough! Residency is an educational experiment. It will be held on the basis of two universities: the Moscow Veterinary Academy. Scriabin and here at Don State Technical University. Residents will receive diplomas from a specialist veterinarian: cardiologist, ophthalmologist, etc. The doctor must be professionally developed. And that will affect his income. In the example of other countries: in the US a good general practitioner earns from 90 to 120 thousand dollars a year and a specialist – from 240 to 360 thousand. There is a difference;
Even some. Although a cardiologist, dentist and ophthalmologist for a cow – it sounds a bit unusual.
Alexey Ermakov: Specialization will provide the patient with more specialized care. In ten years we will have a pool of specialist veterinarians. Ultimately, this also affects the biosafety of the state.
Prevention of epizootics
About biosafety. Where there is hostilities, both domestic and farmed animals are abandoned. Who is responsible for them?
Alexey Ermakov: Real question. I am from the Rostov region, we have a 600 km border with these areas. Every military operation is always followed by epidemics and epizootics (epidemics in the animal world). We have to work in two directions. Provide assistance to animals in these areas: treat, prevent the situation. And check the borders. There is mass migration, people leave with animals. It is important to provide veterinary assistance in temporary accommodation, as there are many animals without accompanying veterinary documents, without veterinary passports. The most pressing question: Is the animal vaccinated against rabies? It is urgent to organize veterinary care for the prevention of particularly dangerous diseases.
What about moving across borders, say, herds of stray dogs that were not stray yesterday?
Alexey Ermakov: Resolve this issue in this area. Although it is not clear by what legislation. In the aftermath of hostilities, the risk of infectious and mass non-communicable diseases increases sharply. Not only humans but also animals die. Landfilling of organic waste is prohibited by our laws, they must be incinerated.
What is the task: of the state or of the volunteers?
Alexey Ermakov: Protecting our territory from particularly dangerous diseases is, of course, a state function. And everything related to the human treatment of animals is voluntary work. According to our laws, an animal is the property of the owner, the state can not spend money on someone else’s property. But this issue must be taken very seriously.
Is there a risk that industrialists will soon understand the market for veterinary services? Will they not process, but print the necessary “spare parts” on a 3D printer? In fact, you are already training industrialists.
Alexey Ermakov: Yes, we train biotechnologists as well as nanomechanics. Big changes are coming: genetic technology, robots, artificial organs. Can industrialists put pressure on veterinarians? Probably not. Because industrialists will create organisms with new properties, for example, a very high-yielding cow breed. Or chickens resistant to bird flu. But our cats, dogs, horses will still need special medical care. More and more animals are living to old age. This means that veterinary gerontology will appear. So if you choose the profession of veterinarian, then do not hesitate: both in the labor market and among the professions of the future, it has a place.
From the podium of the conference were heard elements that made a strong impression on me personally. We do not have our own drugs for human euthanasia. And from what we use, the animal suffocates for a long time and painfully. They do not even have their own anesthesia – the animals die from pain during the operations … Is the idea of treating the animals with economical “human” drugs a measure of despair?
Alexey Ermakov: Our laws are too restrictive in veterinarian rights. In “human” medicine, there is the concept of off-lable: when a doctor or a council decides to prescribe a drug to a patient who is not presented with the instructions, but can help. The list of preparations for agriculture is standardized, everything is clearly described there. But for small animals it is necessary to remove unnecessary restrictions, using broader drugs from human medicine. This is not a compulsory measure, this is normal.
X-ray machines for animals are made in Japan, Spain. And then there are sanctions. And what to do?
Alexey Ermakov: Unlike “human medicine”, we do not have medical certification of high technology equipment, ie a window of opportunity has opened for our engineers. In general, veterinary medicine can become an experimental platform for new home instruments and equipment.
Text: Igor Elkov