World Veterinary Day takes place on the last Saturday ofApril and, this year, vets from around the world jointogether on April 25 to celebrate their diverse and occasionallyoverlooked roles in the communities in which they serve.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “veterinarians and livestockfarmers: a winning partnership” and sets to highlight the pivotal roleveterinarians play between livestock and society in general.

© Dave Mills The BVA Overseas Group, through its remit to facilitate and encourage veterinary development and services in developing countries, celebrates WVD with colleagues from all corners of the globe but with special reference to those working to improve the health and welfare of both human and animals in some of the poorest areas of the world.

Karen Reed, chairman of the Overseas Group, said: “According to the World Health Organization, in todays world 411 million people are poor livestock keepers and farmers who rely on animals for livelihood security. In commemorating World Veterinary Day on Saturday we can see how this figure alone easily demonstrates how the veterinary profession plays a crucial role in international development issues.

“However, the remit of the veterinary profession is much broader than one of animal health alone. All over the world, vets are responsible for public health issues which include food safety, biosecurity, zoonotic disease spread and socio-veterinary interactions.”

Following on from the Overseas Group’s successful programme at BVA Congress 2008 where the theme of livestock and livelihoods saw talks and discussion on topics from empowerment through livestock and human-animal interdependence, this years congress session (on the morning of Friday, September 25) looks at support for the animal health profession overseas with talks on four decades of the Commonwealth Veterinary Association activity and unlocking the potential for Africas livestock keepers and farmers.

Group member Tess Sprayson said: “The close proximity between animal and human health and subsequent welfare becomes ever more apparent. Key issues that affect humanity are reflected in questions for the veterinary profession – the effect of climate change on livestock production has already started to be seen in regions of East Africa, South East Asia and the Pacific. The emergence of conditions such as SARS, West Nile Fever and avian flu have started to produce One Health policies, where medical and veterinary professions are joining forces in recognition for the need of an integrated approach to public health.”

Highlighting the contribution of the veterinary profession to society, Karen Reed added: “Within the profession there is increasing interest in the social and economic aspects of livestock keeping but also acknowledgement that poor livestock keepers are highly vulnerable to crises.

“The veterinary profession is a diverse one and currently development vets are involved with projects that many would not consider typically veterinary. Such projects include helping HIV/AIDS-affected communities with sustainable livelihood interventions, the implications of gender and livestock husbandry, how barriers in livestock trade can be overcome and how pastoralists can cope with climate change.”

Image: A young diarrhoeic calf belonging to a Maasai herdsman in Kenya in the process of being rudimentarily rehydrated (© Dave Mills)

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