World Veterinary Day is held on April 27th this year. The World Veterinary Association (WVA) created this day in 2000 to celebrate the veterinary profession and draw attention to the countless contributions that veterinarians make, not just to the well-being of pets, but to society as a whole.
The WVA has its origins in 1863, when Professor John Gamgee held a meeting of veterinarians and professors of veterinary medicine in Europe. This conference attracted 103 veterinary professionals from 10 countries and marked the first meeting of the International Veterinary Congress, which later became the World Veterinary Association. Ways to fight epizootic disease (outbreaks of animal disease) and establish rules for importing/exporting cattle were the topics of discussion at this first meeting, and laid the groundwork for discussing and solving concerns facing the modern world.
Today, the WVA represents over 500,000 veterinarians from around the world and holds conferences to exchange ideas, share experiences, and promote and develop veterinary medicine.
Food security, food safety, animal welfare, and disease prevention (animal and human) have become a global concern as we have evolved into a global economy, making international partnership key. In order to meet the needs of our global society, the WVA partners with other international associations, such as the World Medical Association, World Health Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization.
This year, World Veterinary Day is promoting the importance of vaccination. Vaccination is a key component of preventive care in veterinary medicine. Vaccinations are not only important to protect the health of companion animals, but also the health of farm animals, and with this, food security and the livelihood of farmers around the globe.
When you hear the word veterinarian, you may think of the veterinarians at your veterinary clinic and think that their work is only focused on caring for pets in your community. However, they are likely involved in surveillance programs to track the spread of disease in pets and wildlife (e.g., rabies in the local wildlife populations) and the occurrence of ticks and tick-borne diseases in your community. They are likely engaged in the global veterinary community by being a member of a national or international association under the WVA. Their contribution to local, national, and international veterinary medicine is paramount in keeping animals, the environment, and humans healthy.
The next time you see your veterinarian, remember to say a big Thank You, not only for caring for your furry or feathered friend, but for contributing to the global health of animals, humans, and the environment!