Veterinarians use their scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society not only through protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering and the conservation of animal resources, but also in promoting public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge. Always respecting the oath, they perform innumerable hard and adventurous tasks connected directly to various of animal species right from the very docile lamb to the furious loin (domestic, pet, exotic, wild animals and birds). Responsibilities for promoting public health by ensuring more and more nutritious and safe foods of animal origin, prevention and containment of zoonotic (transmitted from animals) diseases, minimising use of and therefore development of resistance to antibiotics, development of animal models for human diseases and role in the use of animals as companions and as an important component of green care to the ever-increasing human population are only a few issues from a long list.
The veterinarians have always silently dedicated their life to the voiceless creatures and also exploited them to harvest maximum benefit and profit for the human race. Under the umbrella organisation, the World Veterinary Association (WVA) that represents global veterinary profession, the veterinarians throughout the world celebrate annually the World Veterinary Day (WVD) on last Saturday of April. The themes for most of the celebrated days since year 2000 focussed mainly on important public health issues.
Veterinarians have always been acting as a strong (behind the curtains) work force for human health despite the fact that they are provided meagre resources, and under poor public perception their voice often remains unheard. However, with the fast-changing world, due to the more frequent outbreaks of the zoonotic diseases (including Covid-19) in the recent past, a wake-up call to invite other sectors for communication, coordination and collaboration has once again been given by none but the vets. Emerging and re-emerging pathogens present challenges for public health systems worldwide. When considering animal interaction, the complexity of these challenges becomes even more evident. It has been proven that at least 75% of emerging diseases have a zoonotic origin, having diverse animal species as their primary reservoirs.
As an important segment of the WVD-2021 celebrations (to be held on 24th April), Faculty of Veterinary Sciences & AH, SKUAST-Kashmir organised an impressive One Health Hackathon on the World Health Day (7th April). The day long programme attended by veterinary, medical and environment professionals with lectures and success story presentations and lively interactions with experts from within and outside India highlighted the importance of collaboration urgently needed between human, animal, and environmental health professionals. Sponsors (NAHEP-SKUAST-K) and the organisers: members of SKUAST Veterinary Scientists and Academicians (SVSA) – one among the only four associations in India registered with World Veterinary Association (WVA), all deserve appreciation for the properly timed and held event. Covid-19 calls for a change; to realise benefits of one health. Opportunity needs to be availed before it is too late!Less talk and more action in this direction is of paramount importance.
Mujeeb Fazili is Professor & Head, Mountain Livestock Research Institute (MLRI), SKUAST-Kashmir, Manasbal.