World Veterinary Day is celebrated every year on last Saturday of April. This year it will was on 30th April 2022. This day is commemorated to highlight the contributions of veterinarians for the welfare of animals, society and environment.
Veterinarians are thought to have the sole responsibility of minimizing the sufferings of animals, be it farm animals, pets, or wild animals i.e., the living organisms other than plants and humans. However this screwed common notion is being widened by the rise of One Health Concept.
Thus from routine duties of treating dumb creatures, the roles of veterinarians are ever diversifying with emergence of novel pandemics further clarifying the need for collaborative, multisectoral, and transdisciplinary approaches for achieving optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment. Joint collaboration is essential for safeguarding animal and human health, environment and food safety.
In every sphere veterinarian has direct or indirect role and to perform these roles a veterinarian has to be resilient to tackle the situations. Thus the World Veterinary Association (WVA) has kept the theme of this year’s World Veterinary Day 2022 as Strengthening Veterinary Resilience. It highlights the need for providing help and resources to veterinarians to support their cause.
Roles of veterinarians range from providing health care, teaching, research, production, to public health and environmental safety. Briefly veterinarians protect health of both animals and humans. They cater the health and welfare needs of all animal species. Imparting teaching in veterinary colleges to acquire novel knowledge, skill and innovations, is the main source of developing educated human resource in veterinary science.
Veterinarians in production disciplines have responsibility of boosting animal production for food security and income. In environmental protection, research, food safety, and public health, veterinarians of both the animal health divisions and animal production divisions have critical roles.
These roles are well performed when facilities and resources are adequate that make veterinarians resilient and the veterinarians are not stressed and sapped with deficient systems. In addition to improving resilience by various self measures, provision of support and infrastructure in various disciplines of veterinary and animal science aids to resilience.
Providing efficient treatment to ailing animals is the foremost responsibility of every veterinarian. Many a time the healthcare facilities are not available with all veterinarians. This affects the therapeutic management of affected patients. A veterinarian should be provided with all the basic infrastructure that is required for patient care to augment the resilience. A veterinary practitioner or clinician quite often manages the things with least available resources.
Veterinarians in academia teach students about various disciplines of veterinary and animal sciences. This in addition to creating skilled human resource for animal welfare also provides technical manpower for biomedical research, teaching, and platform for collaborative efforts with other stakeholders of one health approach.
Veterinary college faculty members conduct research, teach, provide care for animals in the veterinary teaching hospital, and develop continuing education programs to help practicing veterinarians acquire new knowledge and skills.
Teaching in veterinary science is marred by the lack of advanced teaching tools and novel models. Innovative technologies developed for increasing effectiveness of teaching can improve resilience of veterinarians in academics.
Production science disciplines including livestock production management, livestock products technology, poultry science, animal nutrition, animal genetics and animal reproduction contribute to food security and economy besides generating employment avenues.
Production systems in veterinary are mostly conventional and veterinarians are coping up with the available resources. This results in lower production and large gap between demand and supply.
There is an import of more than 95 crore eggs, 92 lakh broilers and 350 lakh kgs of mutton in Kashmir annually draining more than 100 crore rupees annually. Developing innovative production systems or upgrading infrastructure can make veterinarians resilient to meet the production demands.
One of the most significant and crucial role of veterinarians is the public health safety. As more than 60% of the known infections and 75% of the emerging infections are zoonotic that is they originate from an animal source and affect humans hence role of veterinarian becomes inevitable.
Emergence of novel and severe zoonotic infections including zika virus, ebola virus, avian flu, swine flu, SARS, MERS and of most recent SARS-CoV-2 that caused the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the roles of veterinarians from every discipline whether of molecular subjects like virology, immunology, epidemiology, or from basic, production and clinical-paraclinical subjects.
Every veterinarian irrespective of discipline contributes during the emergency like pandemic whatever the responsibility is given be it diagnosis, surveillance, epidemiology, control, prevention, or management. Baring a few laboratories in the country, veterinarians always have to perform their roles with meager facilities.
Provision of well equipped laboratories can boost the morale of veterinarians in contributing to the public health safety and improve performance at various stages of contribution. Under the current scenario of deficient infrastructure, awareness and teaching about the public health issues and one health approaches though can support but may not suffice their role.
To ensure environmental safety every veterinarian shoulders responsibility to prevent environmental hazard in collaboration with other researchers.
Briefly veterinarians from public health, epidemiology, and pathology frequently have to monitor the zoonotic and non zoonotic diseases, host-vector-pathogen interactions, those from nutrition, physiology, and biochemistry observe green house gas emissions whereas pharmacologists and toxicologists keep check on toxicities and adverse effects on animals.
Lack of infrastructure and laboratories renders environmental monitoring inefficient. Creating such facilities ensures prevention of environmental degradation at the early stage and devising of curative measures by the policy makers.
Veterinarians also have Government/Legislative roles to facilitate administration. Quite often veterinarians have to provide information and ideas for the future development policies of various veterinary related fields.
In a nutshell, veterinarians have a pivotal role in every aspect to safeguard animal and human health, environmental and food safety and to make veterinarians resilient provision of better facilities and resources that can facilitate better delivery and efficient outcome is the need of hour.
Dr. Mohammad Iqbal Yatoo, Assistant Professor, FVSc and AH Shuhama
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK