Training opportunities for one person can ensure better chances for a whole community.

6 September 2021, Dushanbe – Livestock plays a significant role in Tajikistan’s economic growth. Healthy livestock is also a driving force for sustainable production and food security and can contribute to better nutrition for millions of people in the country. This not only represents a source of high-quality food, but is a source of income for many smallholder farmers for purchasing food, as well as agricultural inputs, such as seed, fertilizers, and pesticides.

Without question, Amirkhon Nazirov truly loves animals and recognizes their value for Tajik rural families and society.

With 30 years of devoted work as a veterinarian, Amirkhon is now a senior vet at the veterinary station under the Committee for Food Security responsible for controlling animal diseases in Tajikistan’s Shamsiddini Shohin district.

His career path was rocky and challenging, yet his continuous wish to learn and develop brought him further. Earlier, he was selected to participate in training provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) that has helped him advance in his professional path.

“Through the opportunity to attend this course, I gained new knowledge and skills that advanced the service I’m delivering in this field,” stated Amirkhon. “This is very important to ensure the community’s recognition of the veterinary services’ value.”

Amirkhon lives in a mountainous area of Tajikistan neighboring Afghanistan, where most people are engaged in agriculture. He dreamed of becoming a vet since his childhood. After graduating from the veterinary college, Amirkhon joined his father, who worked as a horse herder at the Frunze state farm.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he was finally assigned as a veterinarian to the same state farm. The large farm offered plenty of work for the young specialist, who had to treat all types of livestock, including horses, cows, goats, and sheep, and, on some days, even travel far, and deal with difficult cases. But he never gave up and tried everything to save the animals.

Nowadays, people have higher expectations in terms of the quality of veterinary services ensuring animal welfare and food safety.”

Amirkhon further developed his knowledge in 2019 through a comprehensive 10-day veterinary course offered by FAO in close cooperation with the Tajik Veterinary Association as a part of an European Union funded FAO project.

The training courses composed of theoretical and practical parts taking place in clinics and on farms. Along with 157 veterinarians, Amirkhon gained the skills and expertise needed for preventing, detecting, and responding rapidly and effectively to animal diseases. In addition, upon completion of the courses, the vets received veterinary tools and special clothing to help their work with rural communities.

“The courses played a crucial role in skilling vet specialists; the experts of the Veterinary Association were very knowledgeable and experienced,” added Amirkhon. “I really needed such courses to improve my knowledge and become more confident. In the past, due to the lack of knowledge and skills, we encountered serious challenges in treating livestock. I learned to do caesarean operations on animals when they have difficulty delivering, which is very important to save their lives. I am better able to manage the treatment of livestock and pets, in particular when they have flu, colitis, gastritis, scabies, etc. Nowadays, people have higher expectations in terms of the quality of veterinary services ensuring animal welfare and food safety.”

Devoted to continuous learning

For Amirkhon, it was not the first encounter with FAO. He also participated in FAO’s brucellosis control programme in Tajikistan that ran between 2003 and 2013. It was one of the most successful in Central Asia, and 642 veterinarians and local communities benefitted from this.

Without question, Amirkhon Nazirov truly loves animals and recognizes their value for Tajik rural families and society.

The programme helped advance practical knowledge and experience on preventing and treating brucellosis, and tackling the threat for both animal health and public health. FAO promoted gaining practical experience in laboratory diagnostics and surveillance, and supported the development and implementation of sound strategies for sustainable control programmes against brucellosis in livestock.

“I believe that prevention is much better than the cure,” remembered Amirkhon. “To limit the spread of the brucellosis within and among flocks and herds, we used long-term vaccination as the main preventative tool. Thus, we could minimize the negative impact of this disease on human health and the livestock on which households depend for income and food security.”

“Vets are fully dedicated to protect animals’ health and well-being and also humans’, very much linked to this,” says Amirkhon Nazirov. “Of course, differences exist between these two types of patients and options for treatment; however, we still have common interests and shared challenges. That is why there should be a strong collaboration between human and veterinary medicine to solve public health problem overall.”

There is a famous quote attributed to Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov: The medicine cures a human, and the veterinary medicine cures the whole humanity. Amirkhon made this quote his motto and lives up to this.

Activities related to improving veterinary services are part of the project “Strengthening institutions and capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture and State Veterinary Inspection Service for policy formulation,” funded by the European Union. The main objective of this project is to assist the Government of Tajikistan in institutional reforms of their agricultural sector, including food security and safety.