Veterinary students on a mission to uplift veterinary education throughout Africa

Posted on July 21, 2016

Vet Books for Africa is a unique, student-run initiative that was established in 1993. The project's main aim is to distribute veterinary text books, journals and other educational tools to veterinary faculties in countries in southern and central Africa. The current team consists of eight veterinary students from the Onderstepoort Faculty of Veterinary Science of the University of Pretoria who will undertake a six-week road trip during November and December 2016 to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique and Malawi.

Making this trip a reality is not an easy task. It takes two years of intense fundraising, planning and dedication. The project is completely dependent on sponsorship and donations from various companies and institutions, and the itinerary is massive. In addition to visiting the universities, Vet Books for Africa also volunteers resources and time to several charities along the way. Among others, the team visits animal rehabilitation centres, sanctuaries and SPCA branches. It is their aim to provide each facility with as many vital resources as possible, including medicine, school clothing and stationery, as well as their time and knowledge, all of which are necessary for the continued operation and success of these entities.

Through their actions, Vet Books for Africa hope to promote education and conservation, and to unite veterinary students across Africa in order to create a sustainable environment for animals and humans alike - one that future generations can enjoy.

Over the last year and a half, the project committee has been gathering the financial resources they need to make this the biggest trip yet. They were recently given a huge boost when, after a meeting with Ascendis Health – Phytovet Division, the company agreed to make a very substantial financial contribution to the initiative. This has allowed the Vet Books for Africa committee to expand the scope of the project to include Uganda. In addition to its financial contribution, Ascendis Health provided the option of using additional means of transport, allowing the students to take more resources than they could on previous trips and to focus their efforts on acquiring resources for the rest of the year.

Resources will be acquired in a number of ways. Funds obtained from events such as the 94.7 Cycle Challenge and the biennial Onderstepoort dodgeball event will be used to buy equipment and textbooks at reduced prices. In addition, the Vet Books for Africa team will hold a book drive to collect second-hand text books at the Faculty of Veterinary Science from 18 July to 1 August 2016.

The committee will also continue to look for sponsors – particularly for donations of medical equipment – to enable them to take as many donations as possible on this African trip. Ayla Newmarch of Vet Books for Africa said: 'Our sponsors have given us a huge opportunity to extend the footprint of Vet Books for Africa this year, so join us on our journey and help make this the most impactful trip yet.'


For more information please contact Ayla Newmarch at [email protected], [email protected] or 060 432 8090. Alternatively, contact Wian Bester (2016 Chairperson) at 072 908 9712 or [email protected]. You can also visit the Vet Books for Africa website at


- Author Chris van Blerk

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