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TOP FEATURE: Meet the women who take care of our animals

Dr Nabadda Sitenda in the field

SPECIAL FEATURE | THE INDEPENDENT | On this Women’s Day 2023, The Independent sought a word from a selection of Uganda’s Vet ladies who continue to set the pace in the world of medicine. 

“Today’s veterinarians are the only doctors educated to protect the health of both animals and people. They work hard to address the health and welfare needs of every species of animal. Veterinarians also play critical roles in environmental protection, research, food safety, and public health.” 

With COVID-19 battles still on the minds of everyone, their stories remind us that veterinarians are the first and best line of defense against animal diseases that could threaten public health and our national security. 

What better way to share their experiences therefore, than for each of them to say it in their own words. Here we go…

✳ Dr Monica Musenero Masanza

At the end of my first year of Vet School, the professors asked me if I wished to cross to medical school. I declined. I still know I took the right decision.

Being a vet set an open world of opportunity for me. I could dig deep into any subject. The multiplicity of animals to handle gave me skills in comparative study.

I have always been studious, not necessarily academic – but love to learn. Vet opened that up for me. I can fit in so many professions… Including the passion of my life: Epidemic Control.

As a vet, your patients don’t talk. So, epidemics don’t talk. Being a vet trained me to be a very good investigator, an invaluable tool in epidemiology. It taught me to have eyes that see and observe the untold. It gave me the public health and preventive aspect of disease. It taught me to deliver results in very unfavourable conditions. I love being a vet.

The challenge as a vet is watching my colleagues live below ability and blaming it on vet. Vet has soooooo many opportunities and advantages over other professions. That is my only challenge.

I am who I am, because I am a Vet. I can morph from a doctor to a business woman to a politician to an environmentalist. A Vet is the definition of a scientist. You touch all sciences.

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✳ Dr. Abiro Bridget Roselyne aka ‘nurse of animals’

I work as Veterinary Officer for Kumi district local government in Eastern Uganda. Truth is it has been a very beautiful and exciting journey being a female Vet.

First, the community was excited to know that not only men can be Vets. They embraced my services.

They also thought that being female, I wouldn’t be able to handle animals but with time they realised that animal handling was an art of technical knowledge and eventually accepted that female Vet services are equal to that of men, and even better!

However, my community still believes that only men can be doctors so they call me “nurse of animals😊”

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✳ Dr Caroline Asiimwe

I am a proud Veterinarian and a conservationist. Being a lady Vet is an intriguing thing. While many people out there assume we are nurses, as doctors, we are very compassionate and have healing hands especially when we combine compassion with passion.

Saving lives is our calling and I urge all Vets to do what we always do with passion, commitment and determination. It’s the only way we shall contribute positively to the wellbeing and health of animals and humans.

To the students who would wishe to pursue a degree in Veterinary medicine, we welcome you to the fraternity. Vets have many opportunities in life. Studying Vet offers you a diversity of opportunities. For example, I am a wildlife Vet together with many of my colleagues. However we also preach the conservation gospel.

At some point I was empowering girls with knowledge of menstrual hygiene and reproductive health management as a way to curtail girls’ drop out from school. Dropping out would conversely make them dependents of natural resources and interfere with our conservation efforts. We have Vets working in banks, URA, health, science and technology, laboratories, fighting cancer across the globe, small and large animal practitioners, prisons officers, police officers, in the military, Buganda kingdom, lecturing, various ministries and authorities, business etc.

What does it mean? Being a Vet opens up many opportunities for you. When you find your niche, do it to your best so that you are remembered for it.

I would encourage the young women out there wishing to join the Veterinary field not to hesitate so that together, we contribute to make the world a better place.

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✳ Dr Justine Wobusobozi .B.

A female voice in veterinary medicine in Hoima district local government

Becoming a veterinarian is a blessing I took long to count in the course of my life till I discovered the multi-specializations embedded in this awesome profession.

While women have progressively increased in number via the veterinary profession, there are ardous challenges faced to execute their duties. Nevertheless, the profession is still very top-heavy with men.

The biggest challenge I face in veterinary medicine is overcoming the constant allegations attached to females in terms of gender. This often results into moral distress.

The distress could as well be attached to the fact that I have a very personal view on how animals should be treated in this world and the society rarely treats them that way.

I urge society to embrace the role of women in veterinary medicine and respect the fact that they give up their lady-like comfort to ensure excellent service delivery.

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✳ Dr Nabadda Sitenda ( Vice President Uganda Veterinary Association)

Dear Female Vets and Male champions, I congratulate you upon reaching this year’s Women’s day celebrations.

As we celebrate this day, note that the Veterinary Profession is a very versatile course where we can venture in different areas. However, while practicing it, don’t forget our career mission – to promote animal welfare.

As a woman I feel the great pleasure of being a Veterinary Doctor, hence the call for more to join the Profession.

Happy International Women’s Day to you all.

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✳ Dr Eva Namulondo

As a young woman working with animals in Kassanda District, my greatest joy has always been managing sick animals to recovery and putting smiles onto hundreds of farmers’ faces.

Despite the poor roads in the district, I as Veterinary officer Kassanda Town council, still try as much as I can to deliver extension services to our farmers.

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 Dr Kellen Kyabagye

The satisfaction I receive from helping my clients take care of animals is great…. No matter how tough or dangerous the situation is. When I am able to help and treat my animals, I am always filled with immense satisfaction.

In rural areas like in Mbarara where I work, there are a lot of farmers that have not experienced a female vet, and it is at times difficult. You need to prove that you can be a good doctor. You have to work much harder.

At the work place, it is a balancing act between being viewed as too aggressive or too quiet and not involved enough, but we soldier on.

If you are not a farmer, you can still meet me at Mbarara small animal clinic where I am the CEO.

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CLICK to read full list of Uganda vet officers in districts across Uganda

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