Oct 20, 2011
WSPA encourages vet world luminaries to teach animal welfare and consider disaster operations as part of students’ training.
We delivered our message at the closing event of World Veterinary Year held in Cape Town last week, that was attended by some 2,000 vet professionals from over 150 nations.
Our education and emergency work is integral to the theme of the final five day event in 2011’s World Veterinary Year calendar, linking the role of the vet profession to the ecosystem, human and animal health in the quest for global sustainability.
In a presentation to delegates, WSPA’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr David Wilkins emphasised this relationship, highlighting that about a billion of the world’s poorest people depend on animals for food, income, social status or cultural identification. And the fact that nearly half the world’s population is involved in agriculture.
Dr Wilkins explained that vets are uniquely placed to improve animal health and welfare, which impact on humans and the environment and that welfare must also be recognised as an academic discipline before it is integral to the veterinary profession globally.
To this end, WSPA designed its Concepts in Animal Welfare (CAW) teaching tool, with modules specially designed for vet and animal health students. To date, some 296 veterinary faculties in over 20 developing countries have received training in WSPA’s ACAW programme, with 215 having incorporated it into their programme for veterinary students. The tool is especially important in East Africa and is taught at many Agriculture and Livestock Training Institutes.
Dr Wilkins also showcased WSPA’s Disaster Management work, which benefits the welfare of animals and community livelihoods, outlining several significant recent WSPA interventions worldwide. He described how since 2005, WSPA has recruited and trained teams of veterinarians from around the world to respond effectively to disasters to meet the current gap in Animal Welfare provision during emergencies. The model for these teams is the same as that used by humanitarian organisations in disaster relief work.
Another essential element in WSPA’s capacity to respond to disasters are trainee vets working in teams, co-ordinated, though not directly employed by WSPA. These Veterinary Emergency Response Units (VERUs) are made up of local volunteer students based in a veterinary faculty, and led by a professor who receives annual training with WSPA’s disaster teams and support in terms of equipment and training.
Over the last two years, VERUs have been established in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Colombia, India, Thailand, Kenya and Myanmar and have all been active in responding to disasters requiring animal assistance. The work of these teams is integrated into their country’s national emergency management infrastructure.
Vets are also playing a significant role in vaccinating dogs in our Collars Not Cruelty campaign work.Ruth De Vere, Head of Education & Learning at WSPA International said, “Throughout World Veterinary Year in 2011 we have taken our message to veterinary events across the globe. Vets play a fundamental role in improving, enhancing and ensuring animal welfare. Through their direct interventions with animals affected by disasters and disease outbreaks and their indirect impact as advisors on effective standards and practice, the veterinary community will be at the heart of efforts to improve animal welfare across the globe. Effectively educating the next generation of veterinary practitioners is key to achieving this success.”