Nepal | January 17, 2021

EDITORIAL: Animal care

The Himalayan Times
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The health of animals should also be of concern to everyone, as there is an interdependent relationship with that of humans

The quality and quantity of animal products, such as eggs, meat and milk, can be guaranteed only when the source, or animal, is healthy and has been taken well care of right from birth. Towards that end, the government has just registered the Animal Health and Livestock Services Council-Bill 2019 at the Secretariat of the Federal Parliament with the intent to streamline the business related to animal health and animal husbandry. The health of animals, just like that of humans, should be of concern to everyone, as there is an interdependent relationship between the two. It is believed that about 60 per cent of all diseases of humans originate in animals. Diseases like bird and swine flu and Ebola, to name a few, have their origin in animals and birds, and they have proved devastating not only for animals and humans but also to the economy of the countries concerned. In ensuring animal health, dedicated and qualified animal health workers and livestock service entrepreneurs have a big role to play.

Apart from developing and promoting animal health and livestock business in the country, the bill also proposes the establishment of a powerful 23-member council to formulate necessary policies, plans and programmes to modernise the livestock service business. Among others, it shall provide suggestions to ensure quality of animal products, animal reproduction and animal husbandry, and determine the qualification of animal health and livestock service entrepreneurs. The bill bars an individual from running such a business without first being registered with the council, although entrepreneurs already registered with the Nepal Veterinary Council are exempted from this provision. So once the bill is endorsed by the parliament and comes into force, it will curtail the haphazard growth of livestock service providers, who not only pose a threat to the health of the animals but also to the growth of the meat and dairy industry.

As the population grows, there is a need to produce more milk, meat and eggs in the country. Securing an uninterrupted supply of nutritious food largely depends on healthy and productive animals and birds. Today livestock production can be ensured with improved breeding, vaccinations and quality animal feed. A healthy and sturdy livestock, free from diseases, is the mainstay of an agrarian economy like ours. A single animal provides a farmer not only milk and meat, but also manure for the farm. The loss of animals – and birds – has telling impact on the financial condition of the farmer, as has been the case when chickens and pigs had to be culled as a necessity during outbreaks of bird and swine flu. But the mere availability of quality treatment and food will not improve the condition of animals if we continue to see them as beasts deserving no better. The Supreme Court’s verdict that prohibits cruelty to animals, namely buffaloes, during transportation over long distances must be enforced. Similarly, people have only heard but not seen the extreme cruelty and brutality used during the slaughter of big animals that take place in unhygienic conditions. When these are also taken care of, we can then look forward to healthy and tasty meat in the market.

Beggar-free city

Making a big city like Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) free from beggars is not an easy task. It needs a coordinated approach of different elected and government bodies to make a city beggar-free. Hundreds of children, elderly people, disabled ones and orphans, some of them even from outside the country, throng the city to eke out a living by begging in the streets and temples. Assimilating them with their families back home should be the ultimate goal of the authorities concerned.

The KMC has so far rescued more than 365 people with a view to making it a beggar-free zone. Among those rescued, 215 were assimilated with their families while others were taken care of by Manab Sewa Ashram, which provides shelter to homeless people. The KMC has launched a three-month campaign to free it of beggars, which coincides with the Visit Nepal Year 2020. Studies show majority of the rescued elderly people have families back home but they refuse to stay with them. We must find out why they chose to stay away from their families. Love, care and compassion are the three things that make people want to live with their family members. Taking care of the elderly people should be the duty of all.

A version of this article appears in print on December 30, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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