Free veterinary services just a click away
When one of her cattle died contracting hoof-and-mouth disease some time back, Salma Akther had grown deeply worried over the future of her remaining herd of 19 animals.
For this resident of Chapainawabganj's Nachole upazila, loss of livestock translates to livelihood being put in jeopardy. She had to quickly find a way to safeguard the rest of her cattle which she had been rearing for the past 10 years.
Though each upazila has an office of the state-run Department of Livestock Services (DLS) to provide veterinary services, service seekers have to avail it in person.
This meant spending time and money travelling to the office and queuing up with others waiting for the office's veterinary surgeon, livestock officer or staff to become available to provide the service.
As luck would have it, a relative informed Salma of a website where veterinary services are provided round the clock free of cost. And sure enough, the platform provided her all remedies and even prescriptions.
The website, bdvets.com, is the brainchild of Dr Mithun Sarkar, the livestock officer of the DLS office at Moulvibazar's Kulaura upazila. He started working on it in 2015 and created the website in 2018.
Service seekers have to provide some basic information about themselves to get registered, after which they can post their queries.
The website currently has over 800 veterinarians registered with it who provide advice on treating common diseases. If needed, there is even a video chat option for the vets to see the animals themselves.
For serious cases, they suggest locating a local veterinary surgeon using the website or visiting any local veterinarian engaged in private practice, said Abdus Samad, livestock officer of the DLS office in Bogura sadar upazila.
An online server stores all relevant data, including inputs by service seekers, veterinarians and the service being provided, Sarkar told The Daily Star.
The system even automatically sends SMS to registered users from time to time with relevant information, such as vaccination requirements and dates, he said.
So far over 3,500 people of 292 upazilas have availed the website's services while over 4,500 digital prescriptions have been issued.
In remote haor or rural areas, it is often difficult to get services on time, said cattle farmer MA Kaium, a resident of Amuli area which is around 25 kilometres away from Kulaura upazila town.
But the website makes availing services easy, sitting back at home, he said.
Praising the initiative, Kulaura Upazila Nirbahi Officer ATM Farhad Chowdhury said the website was contributing to improving citizen services and playing a direct role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.