The Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries has initiated the examination of the Veterinary Practitioners Bill, 2023. The bill, which underwent its first reading on 20 June 2023, aims to establish a comprehensive institutional framework for regulating veterinary practice. It focuses on areas such as training, registration, and licensing of veterinary professionals and para-professionals.
The proposed legislation seeks to repeal and replace the outdated Veterinary Surgeons’ Act, Cap. 277, which has remained un-amended since its enforcement in 1958. During the bill’s introduction to the committee on Tuesday, 04 July 2023, the State Minister for Agriculture,
Hon. Fred Bwino Kyakulaga, said that the Uganda Veterinary Council would be entrusted with regulatory powers. The council’s primary responsibility would involve granting licenses to veterinary practitioners to ensure adherence to professional conduct and responsibility.
In addition to regulating licensed professionals, the bill recognizes the vital role played by non-professionals who provide veterinary services without formal education or a license. Hon. Bwino suggested incorporating provisions under Clause 24 to accommodate these individuals.
Clause 24 outlines exemptions for certain categories of people to offer minor veterinary services without a license. Examples of such services include bloodless castration, bloodless dehorning, tailing of a lamb, earmarking of an animal, and other minor treatments aimed at relieving animal pain.
Furthermore, Hon. Bwino proposed that the committee engage with animal production officers, who are not classified as veterinarians, to ensure their services are appropriately captured and regulated within the bill.
The Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Janet Okori-Moe, expressed support for exempting village veterinarians from licensing requirements, as they provide valuable services at the grassroots level. She emphasized the effectiveness of indigenous knowledge employed by these practitioners, particularly in areas where access to veterinary doctors is scarce.
However, concerns were raised by Hon. Esther Mbayo (NRM, Luuka District) regarding the creation of the Uganda Veterinary Council, considering the government’s current rationalization policy, which discourages the establishment of new agencies and departments. Hon. Veronica Nanyondo (NUP, Bukomansimbi District) suggested amending the existing Veterinary Surgeons Act Cap. 277 to empower the Uganda Veterinary Board established under the previous law, instead of forming a new council.
The 73-clause bill is anticipated to enhance food security, improve animal health and welfare, and mitigate losses associated with animal diseases, such as reduced milk yields, quarantine-related sales losses, and the need for restocking.