Door step delivery of livestock health care services - the eVet project of the Madhya Pradesh Animal Husbandry Department
Madhya Pradesh, India, April 2012 - The Department of Animal Husbandry, Government of Madhya Pradesh, recently launched an eVet project, initially focused in selected villages in 15 blocks in the districts of Sehore and Betul. Approved by the agriculture cabinet, the initial pilot in the two selected districts is jointly funded by the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), a central government scheme to increase investment in agriculture, and the state plan budget.
Following piloting in these two districts, the project will be extended to other areas of the state which lack access1 to veterinary services. Funds for up-scaling the programme across the state will be met by the state budget.
The eVET project aims at using Information Communication Technology (ICT) to provide doorstep veterinary services to livestock rearers in rural areas. Services include on-line consultation and referral for livestock ailments and diseases, information on the prices of livestock and livestock products at different markets and generating reports for monitoring purposes. Trained by the department2, Assistant Veterinary Field Officers (AVFOs) and Gau-sevaks will be equipped with a net-book and a mobile phone with camera and will visit the designated villages to collect information and report livestock health problems and symptoms through web-enabled software to veterinarians at the block and district level veterinary centres3. Veterinarians at these centres will review the information submitted, and up-load the prescription on-line. In addition, there will be a provision to upload photographs of sick/ injured animals to enable better understanding of the ailment by the veterinarian. In complex cases, a short duration video clip of the animal’s condition can be also uploaded for easy reference.
The Gau-sevaks will charge the livestock rearer based on the number of livestock attended to, and the service provided including a charge for the prescription provided by the block/district level veterinarian. Of the total fee charged the Gau-sevak is required to deposit Rs. 5 with the Zila Pashu Rog Kalyan Samiti, a government established committee at the district level tasked with the objective of creating a corpus fund to facilitate sustainability of the veterinary services in the future. In addition, the income earned is expected in due course to meet recurring expenditure under the eVet programme (such as phone and internet bills, maintenance of equipment etc.). The equipment provided to the Gau-sevaks will be under warranty for the initial one year pilot and subsequent maintenance will be the responsibility of the para-vets themselves who will maintain the equipment from the income earned by providing services to the livestock rearers. The prescribed medicines, if available at the veterinary centre, will be collected by the Gau-sevaks and will be given to the livestock owner at a discounted cost. Medicines that are not available at the centres can be directly purchased by the livestock owner from the market.
The state currently has 18,000 trained Gau-sevaks in addition to 2,000-2,500 AVFOs who are posted at district and block level veterinary hospitals and dispensaries. The launch of the eVET programme aims at further strengthening the cadre of Gau-sevaks. A notification, authorizing them to carry out minor veterinary practices, comprising vaccination and first-aid, under the supervision and guidance of registered veterinary practitioners, is currently under process4. Under the eVet project, Gau-sevaks and AVFOs will be trained in the use of equipment and software programmes. Based on the results of the initial pilot phase, an incentive system will be developed to encourage veterinarians to promptly attend to the queries received from the para-vets. It is expected that a Gau-sevak shall visit 15-20 households in a day.
An informal stakeholder consultation was conducted to assess the kind of services required by the livestock rearers followed by a baseline survey which is currently underway. The approximate project cost for the pilot run in two districts is Rs 1.45 crore and the budget for up-scaling the intervention across the state is over Rs 35 crores. Expected outcomes of the eVET project are the availability of health care services for livestock at minimum time and affordable cost, and at the doorsteps of livestock rearers, where these services are needed the most; improved reporting and disease surveillance which can lead to better targeting of investments; timely information on the prices of livestock and livestock products leading to increased incomes and better livelihood opportunities.
Contributed by - Dr Rakesh Kr. Sharma, Under Secretary cum Chief Information Officer, Department of Animal Husbandry, Government of Madhya Pradesh (a trained eGovernment Champion under the National e-Governance Plan, Government of India) and the SA PPLPP Coordination team
1. Villages located more than 8 km away from veterinary centres are considered inaccessible.
2. Gau-sevaks or private para-vets are rural youth who receive six months training from the Animal Husbandry Department in providing basic health care services like vaccination and first-aid to livestock. Generally one person from each Gram Panchayat is selected for the training. These private para-vets function at the village level and provide services against a nominal fee. The Assistant Veterinary Field Officers (AVFOs) are trained for two years by the Animal Husbandry Department. They are employed by the government and are posted at district and block level veterinary hospitals and dispensaries. Since Gau-sevaks are based in their respective Gram Panchayats, they are relatively more accessible to rural communities as compared to the AVFO’s who are based at block and district level veterinary centres.
3. The auto-referral system has been introduced under the eVet project under which the query sent by the para-vet is first referred to the block level veterinarian. If there is no response within half an hour, the query is automatically referred to the district level veterinarian and further to the state level veterinary hospital. An intended-referral system is also proposed to be introduced whereby if the block level veterinarian is not able to understand a particular case, the same can be intentionally referred by him to the district or state level veterinarian.
4. The notification is expected to be released within two months time.