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Veterinarian visits Mongolia to assess drug quality issues
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- In a country where animal agriculture makes up nearly one-third of the gross national product, quality veterinary care is a life-or-death need.
That's why veterinarians like Dr. Cory Langston volunteer to visit Third-World countries and assist with various issues affecting the animals there. Langston, a professor of clinical sciences at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, recently took a 10-day trip to Mongolia to evaluate laboratory needs and make recommendations for improvement.
"In Mongolia, nomadic herdsmen make up the majority of workers outside the cities. Veterinarians there had noticed potential problems with the available veterinary drugs, which could have a devastating effect on the livelihood of these herdsmen," Langston explained. "Unfortunately, the Mongolian Veterinary Drug Testing Laboratory, which is responsible for assuring adequate purity and quality of drugs manufactured in or imported into Mongolia, is very poorly funded and has inadequate equipment to carry out its mission."
Switzerland, a major importer of Mongolian goods, offered to use grant funds to update the lab equipment, but first wanted an independent evaluation of the laboratory.
Based on his background in pharmacology, VET Net, an affiliate of Christian Veterinary Missions, contacted Langston to evaluate the Mongolian laboratory's needs. While VET Net's primary mission is evangelism, they also run a veterinary training program in the capitol city for Mongolian veterinarians.
"The quality of veterinary education in Mongolia is very much below the standard in the West. They receive almost no hands-on veterinary training," Langston said. "VET Net is doing a great deal by training veterinarians with the program in the city, as well as additional programs where local veterinarians in the countryside are trained to care for and treat their animals better."
A third VET Net program looks beyond veterinary medicine to the children in rural areas who have dropped out of school or otherwise not been able to pursue an education. These children are taught basic reading, math and English skills.
"The various programs are an effort to upgrade the quality of veterinary care, the quality of herd health, and the quality of life for the herders," Langston said.
Langston's findings at the laboratory were as expected: the laboratory and its equipment are rudimentary and ineffective. For example, a standard method of analyzing drug purity is with a piece of equipment called a high pressure liquid chromatograph, or HPLC. Langston said the MSU veterinary college has five or six HPLC systems; the entire country of Mongolia has only three, none of which are located at the drug testing laboratory.
"One key recommendation was the purchase of two HPLC systems for the laboratory," Langston said. "They also have a very limited ability to test injectable products for sterility, so recommendations were made to upgrade the equipment and training in that regard. We also recommended that travel costs be included for the two scientists and a translator to go outside of the country for appropriate training."
A group with the Swiss government is considering the recommendations and will make a decision at an unknown time.
MSU-CVM Dean Dr. John U. Thomson also visited Mongolia in October 2003, his fourth trip to this Third-World country located between Russia and China. During that trip, veterinarians at the Mongolian Agriculture Institute indicated a desire for a relationship with MSU. The result was a formal agreement between the two entities that seeks to improve the quality of veterinary care in Mongolia.
"I've been to Mongolia four different times with the World Health Organization and other international groups, so I've had a working relationship with them for the last decade," Thomson said. "Mongolia is a veterinarian's paradise -- these people rely on their livestock for their livelihood, period. Their animals are their life, and veterinarians are critical to their survival. The agreement provides a great opportunity for us to assist them and also learn from them."
Thomson said veterinarians like Langston who volunteer their time and talent to assist the effort of improving the quality of veterinary care are invaluable.
"What Dr. Langston is doing is a tremendous help to the country because it will provide veterinarians with the resources they need to treat their animals," Thomson said. "It will be transformational for the country and for the people of Mongolia. It's great to have someone in Mongolia who's as qualified and as knowledgeable as Dr. Langston to be representing the entire veterinary profession."
Contact: Dr. Cory Langston, (662) 325-1265