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Back in 1969 a group of laboratory analysts employed at what is now known as the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute got together and established the South African Association of Veterinary Technologists (SAAVT). The SAAVT was determined to set a formalised study course for specific training of veterinary technologists in order to adequately prepare analysts for the demands placed on them within a South African context. Many hours spent in development of a course and discussion with industry partners culminated in the graduation of the first group of Veterinary Technology students at the end of 1975 at the then Pretoria College for Advanced Technical Education making this the oldest formal veterinary paraprofessional qualification in South Africa.
In 1974 the SAAVT formed its first ad hoc training committee through which to engage the training institution to make suggested changes to the curriculum to ensure continued high standards of education. Since then the Association remained one of the major stakeholders making continued input regarding changes and improvements to the curriculum and from the year 2020 it will become a formal 4 year B-degree course.
The 1976/77 annual report of the SAAVT makes mention of the fact that the probability to have veterinary technologist registered with a professional council should be investigated. At that time only medical nurses, pharmacists, medical technologists, medical doctors and veterinarians had to be registered with a professional body in South Africa. About 10 years passed before veterinary technologists were officially recognised for registration and to date the SAAVT is the only professional body representing the interests of the Veterinary Technology profession in South Africa at the South African Veterinary Council.
In South Africa, Veterinary technology can be defined as a branch of veterinary science that has as its goal the application of technology and laboratory techniques to analyse a diverse set of samples of animal origin to assist with the diagnosis, prevention, control, treatment and rehabilitation of illness and disease in animals.
The profession of Veterinary Technologist as it is currently applied in South Africa is unique in the world. Veterinary Technologists are purpose trained to perform laboratory work in veterinary diagnostic laboratories, veterinary research facilities and even veterinary vaccine production in disciplines such as Virology, Bacteriology, Serology, Biochemistry (Chemical pathology), Histopathology, Parasitology and Molecular biology.
The SAAVT’s mission is to promote excellence in the Veterinary Technology Profession