The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) congress (October 11-14) addressed inequalities and shortcomings in theveterinary curricula worldwide and proposed new policies for theimprovement of initial and continuous veterinary education.

Bernard Vallat

The message, which was put forward at the OIE’s global conference in Paris – entitled “Evolving veterinary education for a safer world” – was supported by more than 400 deans and directors of veterinary training institutions, as well as key national veterinary education policy makers.

The conference was held after evaluations carried out by the OIE in over 95 Member Countries – using the OIE Performance of Veterinary Services tool (PVS tool) – highlighted the considerable need for strengthening veterinary professional education with respect to the OIE’s international standards of quality applicable to any national animal health system.

Bernard Vallat, director general of the OIE, said: “As demonstrated by our evaluations of national veterinary services over the last few years, the veterinary education curricula in many countries are failing to keep pace with those countries’ basic requirements in terms of the capacity of the public and private components of their Veterinary Services in the fields of animal disease surveillance and control. It is critically important that veterinary curricula worldwide include training modules in managing the early detection of infectious disease outbreaks, including zoonoses, and rapid response mechanisms to these events.”

In order to prevent and control diseases on the entire planet, veterinarians must receive education and training that enables them to have a direct effect on the quality and performance of Veterinary Services. Veterinarians must acquire technical excellence, but as they are all involved in national animal health systems they also need a broad general education to give them a better grasp of the mechanisms of governance at both the national (legislation, chain of command, financial management, communication) and international level (knowledge of relevant global and regional Organisations and of international standards).

Also, in view of the ever-increasing threats that zoonoses represent it is of utmost importance that veterinarians receive appropriate training in this field and assume a leading role in developing control strategies of zoonoses in cooperation with all relevant sectors, especially the medical world.

Tjeerd Jorna, president of the World Veterinary Association, said: “We reached a global consensus on what steps can be taken to convince certain countries awarding ‘third-rate’ veterinary diplomas to encourage them to modify their behaviour and ensure that these diplomas are delivered on the basis of effective high level know-how that meets societal needs.”

The conference was an opportunity to:

  • agree on a minimum curriculum for all veterinarians, whatever educational establishment in the world provides the initial training;
  • design and recommend mechanisms to help to improve the content and quality of training;
  • exchange views on priorities for the content of academic courses, the main purpose being to reach consensus in order to recommend an updated veterinary curriculum to the international community;
  • ensure that future graduates are increasingly able to work in an international environment, applying international standards for infectious disease surveillance and control, veterinary public health, food safety and animal welfare;
  • discuss the involvement of national veterinary statutory bodies in the harmonisation of recognition procedures for veterinary faculties, which would help foster recognition of the importance and the quality of veterinary activities for society as a whole at global level. Given that the Veterinary Services, as defined by the OIE, encompass both the public and private sector players of national animal health systems, the whole of the veterinary profession needs to be involved in meeting all these requirements.

Representatives of the various direct beneficiaries of animal health and animal welfare activities (animal producers, processors, consumers, other non-governmental organisations) were also represented at the Conference, which welcomed close to 500 participants.

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