BVA Overseas travel grants support veterinary students’ research in Malawi and the Galapagos

20 September 2018

Rosie Bartholomew used the grant to study the challenges faced by women dairy farmers in Malawi

Veterinary students Rosie
Bartholomew and Rachel Hartley Young were announced as recipients of the
British Veterinary Association (BVA) Overseas travel grants during an awards
ceremony at the BVA Members' Day in York today.

The BVA
Overseas travel grant scheme supports
undergraduate research projects that contribute to sustainable development and
good animal welfare overseas. The grants of £500 each aim to give students the
chance to gain experience in the prevention and control of exotic and emerging
animal diseases; help them develop beneficial life skills such as
communication, adaptability and open-mindedness; and, through their work
abroad, inspire a lifetime's commitment to animal health and welfare globally.

Final year student at The Royal (Dick)
School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Rosie Bartholomew,
used the grant for a project she undertook earlier this year on the challenges
faced by women dairy farmers in the Likuni district, Malawi. The project
focused on the One Health aspect of veterinary medicine investigating both a
human health and an animal health and welfare issue. Working alongside vets and agriculturalists at the Small
Scale Livestock and Livelihoods Programme, Rosie used a participatory photography tool from Photovoice to identify and discuss the challenges faced by
these women and to develop possible community-based interventions to improve
the productivity of dairy farming.

Responding to receiving her
award, Rosie said:

“I
was delighted to receive the BVA Overseas travel grant, which was a huge help
towards making the project a reality for me. This research project has enhanced
my enthusiasm to pursue a career in the field of Veterinary International
Development. Having experienced first-hand the struggles and constraints faced
by Malawian dairy farmers, I have been afforded an insight into the challenges
faced by livestock farmers in developing settings far beyond what any amount of
reading could have allowed me. I am deeply grateful to the women who gave up
their time to be involved in this study and allowed me into their lives.

“Since
the end of third year I have aspired to dedicate my working life assisting
people for whom animals are their lifeline and the backbone of their
livelihoods, and this project has solidified this aspiration. I would strongly
encourage other students hoping to get involved in research, especially in the
One Health field, to apply for this grant!”

Rachel, who is embarking on her
final year at Cambridge Veterinary School, received the grant for her study on
the estimates of feline populations and a survey of ownership patterns and
public opinions regarding cats in the Galapagos. Rachel's project aims to
provide an information base to assist the authorities in planning and
implementing a comprehensive cat management and control strategy.

Commenting on her Overseas travel
grant from the Galapagos Islands, Rachel said:

“I
was absolutely thrilled to hear I had been awarded the 2018 BVA travel grant. It
has been fascinating and humbling to work in a culture with a very different
attitude towards animals. Working at the clinic has stretched my veterinary and
problem solving skills, and our lack of equipment has pushed me to think on my
feet and be flexible.

“Designing
and implementing my research project has been an invaluable experience that
will be of great use in my future career. It has made me reflect about what
kind of vet I aspire to be and highlighted the importance of building
veterinary projects on a foundation of research. I hope to work internationally
in the charity sector in the future and this experience will be absolutely
instrumental in this.”

The BVA Overseas travel grant
scheme began in 1983 and has so far helped 128 students undertake projects in 40
different developing countries. Previous recipients have carried out research
on a range of topics including the conservation of arrowhead dogfish in the
Philippines; the epidemiology and impact
of bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis (TB) in Ethiopia; the prevalence and
molecular identification of helminths in wild and captive Sri Lankan elephants;
barriers to effective breeding and husbandry in communal alpaca herds in Peru;
the conservative control of Wildebeest-associated Malignant Catarrhal Fever on
a dairy farm in Kenya; and the prevalence of Canine Heartworm and three other
vector-borne diseases in Fiji, among others.

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