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Providing animal health services to the poor in Northern Ghana: rethinking the role of community animal health workers?


The Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) system has been promoted as an alternative solution to providing animal health services in marginal areas. Yet, access to quality animal health services still remains a fundamental problem for livestock dependent communities. This paper uses the concepts of accessibility, affordability, and transaction costs to examine the perceptions of livestock keepers about the various animal health service providers. The empirical analysis is based on a survey of 120 livestock-keeping households in the Tolon-Kumbungu and Savelugu-Nanton districts in the Northern Region of Ghana. A multinomial logit model was used to determine the factors that influence households’ choice of alternative animal health service providers. The results show that the government para-vets are the most preferred type of animal health service providers while CAHWs are the least preferred. Reasons for this observation include high transaction costs and low performance resulting from limited training. In areas with few or no government para-vets, farmers have resorted to self-treatment or to selling sick animals for consumption, which has undesirable health implications. These practices also result in significant financial losses for farmers. This paper finds that the CAHWs’ system is insufficient for providing quality animal health services to the rural poor in marginal areas. Therefore, market-smart alternative solutions requiring strong public sector engagement to support livestock farmers in marginal areas and setting minimum training standards for animal health service providers merit policy consideration.

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    The assumption of IIA is that the choice of a given alternative over the other is not affected by the presence of other alternatives (Hilbe 2009:396).


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The first author acknowledges the financial support from the German Academic Exchange Services (DAAD), Germany. We appreciate the logistical support from the Animal Research Institute, Nyankpala-Ghana during the field survey. We are thankful to all respondents for their willingness to share information. We thank the anonymous reviewers for making useful comments, which led to improving the article.

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The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Jonathan Mockshell.

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Mockshell, J., Ilukor, J. & Birner, R. Providing animal health services to the poor in Northern Ghana: rethinking the role of community animal health workers?. Trop Anim Health Prod 46, 475–480 (2014).

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  • Animal health services
  • Community animal health workers
  • Government para-vets
  • Northern Ghana