Reaching down to the people's communes, a veterinary network now covers Tibet's vast pastoral regions.
Besides the main veterinary stations in Lhasa and the five administrative areas, 70 of the 71 counties have established branch stations. Centres for the prevention and cure of livestock diseases have been set up in 145 districts under the counties, and every commune or hsiang (township) has its own part-time veterinarians. Over 3,000 veterinary workers of Tibetan or Han nationality are serving throughout the pastoral areas in the spirit of the policy of "putting prevention first and integrating prevention and cure."
All this has been a powerful impetus to developing livestock breeding throughout Tibet. The region as a whole now has twice the number of livestock as in 1959.
Before the democratic reforms in 1959, veterinary stations were few and far between. Only a very few existed in Lhasa, Shigatse and the Chamdo area. After the reforms, the Party and People's Government transferred much-needed veterinary personnel, medicines and medical equipment to Tibet from the interior and trained veterinarians from among the Tibetan people themselves. Sons and daughters of Tibetan peasants and herdsmen also were sent to study this science in other parts of China.
Now over 60 per cent of the veterinarians serving in the region are Tibetans. Paimatengchen, head of the veterinary station in Chungpa County which is a purely pastoral region on the wintry plateaus of western Tibet, is one of them. A member of the standing committee of the county Party committee and vice-chairman of the county revolutionary committee, he regularly goes to different pastures in the county in his professional capacity and uses these occasions to train local veterinary workers as well. Epidemic prevention in this county has been so effective that the number of livestock rose 150 per cent compared to 1960.
Veterinarians of Han nationality from other parts of China also are doing fine work. Kung Ta-shi from Shanghai has become a familiar and well-loved figure in Tanghsiung County, where he has worked for over a dozen years. The local people elected him a standing committee member of the county Party committee and vice-chairman of the county revolutionary committee.
Another aspect of veterinary work which has had good results is the spreading of knowledge of the subject among the herdsmen and at the same time collecting from them folk prescriptions that use medicinal herbs and acupuncture.
Research workers in this branch of science often make the rounds of the pastoral regions to do research in the course of practice. They have found a number of cures for animal diseases common on the plateaus. Together with workers, they produced around 70 per cent of the vaccines used in the region last year.
(This article appears on page 31, No. 6, 1973)