World Veterinary Day (WVD) is held annually on the last Saturday of April and this week (Saturday 28 April)--and that's today! Around the world, veterinarians are celebrating the profession's diversity by showcasing its contribution to the health and welfare of both people and animals and indeed to the national and international economy, food security and development.
British Veterinary Professor John Cooper has made an impassioned contribution to the celebrations from his current base in welfare service in the West Indies.
"When, on Saturday, World Veterinary Day is commemorated," he said, "some will say ?But what do vets do other than treat pets and visit farms?' The answer is ?much, much more.'
Professor Cooper continued, "The global role of the veterinary profession has never been more important. The daily movement of people and commodities, including animal products, means that infectious diseases can rapidly spread from one continent to another and threaten the health and lives both animals and humans. Avian influenza, West Nile virus infection, Rift Valley Fever and SARS are but few of the dozens of ?emerging' diseases that require a strong veterinary input if there are to be contained and controlled. Vets also play an increasing role in helping to alleviate the burden of rabies - a disease that still kills around 100 children a day.
"Millions of people depend upon animal products - milk, meat, eggs, wool, honey - for their survival. Those who depend most upon animals for their livelihood are the poor and veterinary surgeons remain at the forefront of those who are involved in ministering to these people and their livestock - often in isolated and sometimes dangerous places,
"And it is not only domesticated animals that benefit on a daily basis, on every continent, from the skills, knowledge and compassion of veterinarians together with those, such as veterinary nurses, who support them. Wildlife are an increasingly important part of the veterinary surgeon's responsibilities. There is a growing awareness of the threats that our planet faces as animals and plants become extinct and habitats are destroyed or permanently damaged by such factors as pollution and climate change. As part of measures to counter these changes, members of the veterinary profession participate in conservation programs and the promotion of ?ecosystem health'.
"On World Veterinary Day 2007 it is fitting to recognize the part played by the veterinary profession in providing care for ?all creatures great and small', the millions of people for whom animals are essential and the fragile world in which they live."
World Veterinary Day was founded by the World Veterinary Association (WVA) in 2001 to highlight the work of the veterinary profession around the world in food safety/public health, border controls and quarantine, clinical practice, animal health, animal welfare, environmental protection, research and development and wildlife conservation.
The WVA is a worldwide non-profit organization originally established in 1863 that works in the best, long-term interest of veterinarians, clients, co-operative partners such as the FAO, WHO and IOE, and the world society. It is committed to unifying the veterinary profession worldwide and has members in about 100 countries. See http://www.worldvet.org