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Life as a Veterinarian in Pakistan

A qualified vet from Pakistan, trying to share his experiences through words.

A vet auscultating heart sound of a dog

A vet auscultating heart sound of a dog

Veterinary Doctors in Pakistan

Veterinarians are medical professionals who are specialised in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of all health-related issues in a wide range of animals. In addition, a vet has some level of expertise in managing the nutrition and breeding of animals.

It's a challenging career to pursue; a vet must be well-versed in anatomy, physiology, pathology and many other key subjects. A veterinarian has to treat the voiceless solely based on his expertise and communication with the human owner. Sometimes, a vet has to make some hard decisions; for instance, when euthanasia is performed to spare the pain of an animal suffering from an incurable illness.

Such decisions take a toll on the mental health of a practising vet. Some quit the profession and shift to some other job. A study conducted on vet suicide shows that 19% of the respondents had serious suicidal thoughts.

The veterinarians serving in a third-world country like Pakistan have to face far more daunting challenges, like socio-economic pressures, lack of diagnostic facilities and field hardships. A social stigma is attached to veterinarians, who are considered far less important than human doctors. Some even use the word 'Dangar doctor' to denigrate this noble profession.

Challenges Faced by Veterinarians in the Field

Veterinarians in Pakistan must overcome economic and social pressures as well as a lack of access to modern medical equipment.

Economic Pressures

Pakistan is a country rich in natural resources and manpower, with its livestock contributing around 11% in national GDP and agriculture contributing 58% of the GDP. However, the lack of progressive administrative policies and political stability has weakened the agricultural sector, and farmers are struggling financially.

Most farmers are subsistence farmers, meaning they rear two to five heads of livestock as an income stream to support their families. They can't afford to pay for a vet's services.

Therefore, they either resort to traditional herbal practices to treat their animals or summon an unqualified person to care for their livestock. A field veterinarian then struggles to find suitable clients; even if he manages to get some work, he isn't paid well.

The above account is based on the experiences of the majority of vets in Pakistan. However, there are some vets earning a lucrative income in relatively developed parts of the country, such as Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

Social Pressures

In an economically unstable country where food security is a key issue facing the nation, a veterinarian is not given due respect. They are seen as someone less important. Apart from pet lovers and people with commercial livestock businesses, society as a whole doesn't recognise this profession as something of value.

People avoid enrolling in veterinary courses and make fun of those who are truly passionate about helping the voiceless creatures. However, there are some people in educated circles, including animal lovers and rescuers, who do realise the importance of this profession.

Lack of Access to Modern-Day Medical Equipment

One of the major hurdles that a vet living in a third-world country faces is related to the availability of diagnostic and surgical equipment. In some of the areas, even the basic diagnostic tools like ultrasounds and x-rays are not available, owing to the high operational price of this equipment. Mostly, a vet relies on intuition and experience using just a thermometer and stethoscope.

Most of the time, symptomatic treatment is conducted without reaching a definitive diagnosis. Not only does this affect the reputation of veterinarians, but it also has disastrous effects on the well-being of animals.

Me treating a dehydrated Labrador retriever

Me treating a dehydrated Labrador retriever

Supporting a downer cow with cow lifter in field

Supporting a downer cow with cow lifter in field

Veterinary Medicine Is an Amazing, Worthy Field

Veterinary professionals are amazing individuals who work day in and day out to perform their jobs as effectively as possible amid all the trials and tribulations they face. To uplift this profession, a holistic approach is needed. Well-thought-out socio-economic structural improvements should be introduced to improve the livestock sector. Society needs to be educated to respect this profession by highlighting its importance in the role of uplifting farming communities.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.