31/03/2010 Horse Trust Scholar Travels to Ethiopia to Help Horses and Donkeys

Horse Trust scholar Fernando Malalana, 31, is travelling to Ethiopia in May to provide veterinary treatment to horses and donkeys.

Fernando is in the second year of a three year clinical training scholarship programme at the University of Liverpool, which is funded by equine charity The Horse Trust. He is specialising in Equine Internal Medicine, which covers various fields including cardiology, critical care, gastroenterology and ophthalmology.

On 6 May, Fernando will be travelling to Debre Zeit, Ethiopia, where he will spend three weeks doing voluntary work for animal charity SPANA. Although he will be treating all types of veterinary cases, he will be focusing on horses and donkeys with eye and vision problems.

As well as funding his clinical training, The Horse Trust has provided around £1,600 to pay for a specialist instrument, known as an indirect ophthalmoscope. This instrument will enable Fernando and staff at the Ethiopian vet clinic to carry out a detailed examination of the donkeys and horses' eyes.

"Other vets have noticed on previous trips that many of the donkeys and horses in Ethiopia have problems with their eyes and vision, sometimes causing the animal extreme discomfort. By using this specialist equipment, we will be able to diagnose problems more easily and earlier, so the animal can be treated before the problem gets worse," said Fernando. "By improving the lives of these donkeys and horses, we will also be helping the people of Ethiopia, who depend on their animals for transport and their livelihood."

It is thought that at least 40% of horses and donkeys in the area where SPANA works have problems with their eyes - these range from relatively minor problems such as ulcers and small cataracts, to total blindness.

The indirect ophthalmoscope funded by The Horse Trust consists of a light and lens attached to a helmet. It provides a wider view of the inside of the horse's eye than a standard ophthalmoscope and allows a better view of the retina.

Fernando will be working with one of SPANA's mobile clinics - doing veterinary examinations and giving treatments to donkeys and horses in the villages around Debre Zeit. During his trip, he will also be helping train horse and donkey owners so they understand how to minimise the risk of eye injury and how to care for an animal that has vision problems.

"We are delighted that we are able to help the horses and donkeys in Ethiopia, by providing this specialist equipment. Some of the horses and donkeys living at The Horse Trust's sanctuary have eye problems, so we know first-hand how this can impact the animal's quality of life, if it is not properly treated or managed," said Paul Jepson, Chief Executive and Veterinary Director of The Horse Trust.

Fernando Malalana DVM MRCVS is The Horse Trust Senior Clinical Scholar in Equine Internal Medicine at the University of Liverpool.