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Escaping Afghanistan: Life As A Female Veterinarian

Following the hasty withdrawal of US-led coalition troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban returned to power. This drastic regime change has resulted in the tragic violation of women’s rights, including the loss of education, work opportunities, and the return of forced marriage.

The veterinary community has not escaped the fallout of course, and this has led to many professionals fleeing the country under harrowing circumstances. Whereas others have moved into the country with foreign NGOs providing aid.

Dr. Tahera Rezaei had this to say about escaping Afghanistan:

“I didn’t have any plans to move or emigrate to other countries because I had a good job, I had my own clinic, and I was so happy helping animals there,” Dr. Rezaei said. “When I decided to leave, it was the worst feeling in my life, and I’ll never forget it.” Whilst she still mourns this loss, Dr. Tahera has also said that she’s thankful for her new home in New York: “One thing about New York is we have different people here from everywhere, but everyone respects each other.” 

Unfortunately, many others have not been able to escape to the West – one such veterinarian (using the pseudonym of Dr. Mohammed) had to flee the Taliban, with this requiring him to evade authorities. “We were so worried and confused about what to do … just hours before the Taliban came, we took some food and clothes and went to the mountains.” Their evasion meant that, at one point, they had to hide down a well, with them also hiding in a chicken farm later on. Moreover, his wife had to give birth to their baby son while they were on the run. With their escape ongoing, they live in fear as part of the Hazara – an ethnic group targeted by the Taliban. However, there is hope that they will be able to escape, settling in North America, Europe, the UK or Australasia.

Despite the conditions, some overseas veterinary professionals have made the difficult decision to stay in the country. Dr. Susan Chadima, a US national, says she doesn’t experience the same level of discrimination as Afghan women: “As a Western woman, you’re kind of a third sex.”  Adding, “To be a professional Afghan woman in this country right now is extraordinarily difficult. My female colleagues, women veterinarians that I have known over the years, they’re all sitting at home.”

Why Should You Care?

Freedom is something we cherish and yet take for granted too often. From Afghanistan to Ukraine, it should be clear to see that freedom does not come with a guarantee. We must, where possible, work hard to oppose oppression and support those whose circumstances are not as fortunate as ourselves. It’s also a reminder that though the challenges we face in vet med are real…. they are nothing compared to those in other parts of the world. So while we support our colleagues overseas, let’s remember that we have it pretty darn good at home.

Click here to read the full article. To read more about the conditions that women and girls have been subjected to, click here to read an article by Amnesty International. 


Podcast Addresses Veterinary Workforce Crisis (USA)

Covetrus, a “global animal-health technology and services company supporting the companion, equine, and large-animal veterinary markets”, has released a new episode of their ConnectedCare podcast, titled “The Veterinary Workforce Crisis: What’s Behind It and How Do We Move Beyond It?” with Matt Salois, a trained economist. In this episode, they cover the “latest data on pet-care demand, supply, and veterinary employment and productivity”.

Click here to listen to the podcast episode.

Why Should You Care?

There are a lot of voices sharing the message of how veterinary medicine needs to improve, but few are actually providing solutions. Having qualified individuals across the level of data to which Matt Salois has been exposed and responsible for is, in our opinion, going to be an hour of well-spent time. He may even have a solution or two to explore!


1.2M UK Cats Reported ‘Vet-Less’ (UK)

In a recent report (curated by The Cats and Their Stats Report 2022), it was estimated that up to 1.2 million cats all across the UK, were not registered with a veterinary practice. The report, which was released by Cats Protection, found that the reluctance of veterinary help stemmed from anxieties around the cost of living. 

The report, which was based on 3,500 households in the UK and over 10,000 interviews with cat owners as well as data from the Office for National Statistics, found that there are currently 11 million cats owned as pets in the UK. Of this 11 million, only 89% were registered with a veterinary practice.

The Cats and Their Stats Report 2022 also found that whilst 36% of cat owners only took their cat to the vet when they felt they needed to, 4% reported never taking their cat at all!

Cats Protection’s director of veterinary services, Maggie Roberts, spoke out on the matter:

“More owners are relying on charitable aid in the form of neutering vouchers and food banks to help with the cost of cat ownership.

“As the cost of living continues to rise in 2022 and beyond, both the veterinary profession and veterinary charitable sector will be faced with increasing numbers of cat owners in difficult financial circumstances.

“We must develop proactive strategies to reduce the impact on animal welfare brought about by this crisis,” said Maggie Roberts. 

Why Should You Care?

These statistics are pretty shocking. As veterinary professionals, we must address the barriers which are making veterinary care inaccessible – particularly for cat owners – and reflect on how practices can promote the importance of cat welfare.

There remains a large opportunity to better serve a sizable population of cats and improve their care. Given the stress involved, the wider adoption of Fear Free™ or other low-stress handling models in practice is surely a move in the right direction.

Click here to read the full article, and learn more.


Victorian Floods – How You Can Help (AU)

The flooding in Victoria is having an increasing effect on the region. With harsh weather conditions to be expected from Friday for the next few weeks, the AVA has met with the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR). The next government meeting on the situation is on Friday 21st October.

The AVE has asked for veterinarians to reach out in the following circumstances:

  • You are affected – to allow areas to be mapped
  • You want to pass on specific information and concerns
  • You want to ask for assistance

The AVA is asking for volunteers and financial donations to help their relief efforts. For more resources, including what to do if you need help, please read the full article here

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