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For Equine Vets Everywhere

The adventure continues: arriving in the Gambia and getting started

Volunteer stories
29 Feb 2020 BEVA Member

From the "sublime to the ridiculous" doesn't even start to portray the contrast.

Having disembarked, the heat whilst standing on the tarmac was impressive. The airport was basic but was undergoing renovation but in the light of the corona virus outbreak every passengers’ temperature was taken and alcohol hand wash offered.


Heather the cofounder of The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust met us at the airport. The drive to The Derek Knottenbelt Veterinary Hospital was revealing but not quite as much as the In-patient board (see below). On either side of the main road were single storey modest dwellings made from either corrugated tin or brick with or without rendering. The majority were shop or garage fronts most likely with residential purpose too. The most striking features were the amount of dust everywhere and the amount of rubbish / refuse strewn along the roadside which included broken cars, car parts, bikes and general litter including lots of plastic. According to Heather waste disposal is a real issue in the country.


The Hospital is a few kilometres off the main road on one of the dirt roads. The entrance to the 5 acre site leads to the main building, which is a very grand 2 storey colonial style house, which overlooks the main yard of 2 stable blocks, a small loafing area and the main hospital building....and now to the in-patient board, which includes a case of tetanus, 2 x #’s, a foal with hindlimb paresis due to a recent RTA, a donkey with “no hoof”, which actually means nothing below the fetlock and a group of dogs recovering from botulism and many more! - wow this really is frontline veterinary medicine.


There are about 20 staff and they are most welcoming and apparently grateful for our veterinary expertise .....little do they know about the deficits in my knowledge about exotic disease and my limited experience of working with limited resources!


Maybe this is good preparation for the effects of global warming (more frequent flooding in Upton) and Brexit (the shortage of veterinary supplies), which have all been predicted.....we’ll be ready!