The report on the country’s veterinarian industry describes current conditions, research and development efforts and discusses factors influencing the success of the sector which is represented by active industry associations. All practising veterinary professionals are required to register with the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC) while the South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) is a voluntary organisation. Those veterinarians looking after animals in the agricultural environment fall under the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the Black Veterinary Forum represents the interests of previously disadvantaged veterinarians.
Veterinary Activities including Veterinary Research
Veterinarians play a critical role in treating diseases that pose a risk to animal and human health and thus the industry promotes food safety and food security which are so necessary for the country’s economic growth. South African Animal Health Association (SAAHA) statistics indicate there are 750 registered veterinarian private practices in the country and the number of veterinarians and veterinary para-professionals has increased by 15% over the past five years from 4,826 in 2011 to 5,032 in 2016.
Developments in the Sector
Despite the increase in the number of veterinarians, there is a shortage of professionals operating in the rural areas and in the state sector. 70% of veterinarians are in private practice and 70% of these operate small animal practices in urban areas. To alleviate the geographic mismatch of skills, the government introduced a compulsory community service requirement for all newly qualified veterinarians at the beginning of 2016. In response to changing conditions and in an attempt to improve veterinary services the government has also developed a new South African Veterinary Strategy (2015-2020) which has been gazetted for public comment.