Pacific Partnership Veterinarians Improve Livestock Care in Solomon Islands
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Samantha J. Webb
GIZO, Solomon Islands - World Vets volunteers and U.S. Army veterinary technicians are providing hands-on training for Solomon Island paravets and livestock officers during Pacific Partnership, Aug. 1.

The course of instruction began when 15 Solomon Islander students learned about pig nutrition, housing, diseases and other relevant topics. In the afternoon they put their education to practice when they visited Simon Nukunau, a local man who has recently started raising pigs, for income, and a means to feed his family.

The paravets in Gizo work in areas where there are no veterinarians, so they are responsible for educating farmers on how to safely raise animals, such as chicken and pigs, so that they can be used for human consumption without a health risk.

"It is important to help the farmers have better meat products," said Wilson Agiri, an agriculture principal at the Solomon Islands Rural Training Center, and one of the 15 students. "Better quality meats lead to a better health of the population."

The Pacific Partnership veterinary personnel said they noticed a lot more interaction and interest from the students once they were out of the classroom setting.

"Everyone did really good today," U.S. Army Capt., and team lead, Angelina Gerrardo told the students as filled out forms about the living environment and history of the livestock, where things like the pigs not having enough fresh water, adequate pens and proper care of wounds were noted.

On Monday, the students will present recommendations to Nukunau on how to improve the health of his livestock. The veterinarians also plan to conduct physical examinations and provide care for Nukunau's pigs.

Military members and civilian veterinary experts have been collaborating on projects throughout each mission port of Pacific Partnership 2013.

Gerrardo said the dynamic nature of her team allowed for a greater variety of experiences to be shared with the Solomon Islanders.

"A lot of the World Vets have been to countries and seen diseases we haven't seen in the U.S.," said Gerrardo. "I think our cumulative experience and expertise makes us a really nice team."

The pig training was just one aspect of a weeklong engagement with the 15 students. The training areas were created in conjunction with a lead veterinarian in Honiara with the national Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.

Pacific Partnership 2013 is a collaborative effort of military members and civilians from 10 partner nations including Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand and the United States that improves maritime security through disaster preparedness.
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