Covid-19 has blanketed the world. Appears it is on global2020 tour. Affecting humans, animals (reports of deaths in small & bigfelines), and environment though enormity and/or significance of losses varies.It has influenced our character and disturbed our diurnal rhythm, hormonalrelease and their bodily journey, sleep-wake cycle, appetite, taste, smell,liking and style. Exophillic turned endophillic, exophagic to endophagic,restaurant lovers to home prisoners, stadium active to bed, lean to bellied,workers to jobless, admins to spectators, computer illiterates to literates,non-professionals to social media COVID experts, chalk board teachers tohigh-tech tutors, beggars to choosers, idiots to covidiots, I mean all affectedsave reserved and introverts. They seem to enjoy further isolation and coercivelockdown. People have forgotten festivals, and professionals theirprofession-specific days. World Veterinary Day Twenty20 (so dear to me giventhe month long activities we used to have in Veterinary Faculty of which I'mnot a part now) too seems to be COVID hit. Alas! But the question is can us(besides our efforts in COVID mitigation) make it big amid COVID terror. It alldepends on sincerity and dedication. Let's wait and watch.
World Veterinary Day Twenty20 is being observed on 25thApril (the last Saturday of this month) with the theme "Environmentalprotection for improving animal and human health". The World VeterinaryAssociation (largest family of Vets as well as their common voice; guided byits belief in One Health, envisions that collaboration between the veterinaryand other professions can ensure that humans, animals, and the environmentprosper together – Dr CHIANG, President WVA) and HealthforAnimals has announcedthe above theme keeping in view the contributions of Vets to health of animals,people and environment. The triad of animal-human-environment health isinextricably linked and any negative change to one will surly affect the othertwo. Disease burden is considered as the outcome of interplay betweenenvironmental change and the transmission cycle of a pathogen. Need is to more clearlydefine the causal relationships between environmental characteristics anddisease transmission cycles, leading to a shift in the prevalence, distributionor severity of infectious diseases. COVID -19 pandemic could well be linked toanthropogenic disturbance of ecological niches. The outbreak epicentre, a wetmarket in Wuhan China known for selling of wild animals, represents amodification of market micro-environment favouring increased human-animalinteraction and possible initial animal to human transmission of SARS-Cov 2.
Vets understand their role and responsibility ofsafeguarding environment for future generations. Their actions can helpmitigate the effects of climate change and the responsible use of naturalresources necessary for raising of livestock. In line with the theme, Divisionof Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Veterinary Faculty,SKUAST-Kashmir in collaboration with Quality Control Laboratory of the Varsityhas taken up work on understanding and evaluating the influence of brick kilnson soil-plant-animal health given the fact that livestock productivity andproduction in Kashmir valley is not up to their potential and multiple causalfactors (from nutrition to health measures) may be the reason. Widespreadoperation of brick kilns since long may also be responsible for multiple heavymetal toxicity and/or trace element deficiency induced ill-health and reducedproduction in livestock. Brick kilns cause environmental degradation due toemissions of significant quantities of particulates and gaseous pollutants.Chronic intake of heavy metals by human beings and other animals causes nervoussystem disorders, renal failure, genetic mutations, cancers, respiratorydisorders, and cardiovascular, immune system weakening and infertility. So, itis important from 'One Health' point of view to assess and monitor heavy metalcontamination of soil-pant-animal continuum and examine the sources. No doubt,the J&K Brick Kilns (Regulation) Rules, 2017 makes it clear that the kilnsite shouldn't be detrimental to general public health or to crops, orchards ornurseries in close proximity; shouldn't be in close vicinity to any inhabitedarea, religious place or educational institute or any area which is likely tobe inhabited; and shouldn't be at a distance of < 100 metres from any publicroad (for public education).
Besides the human and material losses COVID-19 shall beremembered for lessoning us the importance of togetherness, beauty of a justsystem, ephemeral nature of super-inflated egos, and repercussions of tramplingof rights of humans, animals and environment. The lava explodes one day with abang, banging the wrong-doer. Hardly matters which post/position/portfolio youoccupy. Hardly matters which place you live in; posh area, a picturesque spot(e.g. Mansbal), remotest periphery (e.g. Kupwara) or a slum. Who knows whenCOVID-19 terror will leave our hearts, minds and environment? Who knows whenthe curve gets flattened? Who knows when this quarantine quarantines COVID-19and we resume the routine?
So considering the on-going lockdown and/or movementrestrictions (as part of COVID-19 containment/control program) and advisoriesfor strict adherence to the WHO prescribed guidelines like social (physical)distancing, avoiding gatherings etceteras, possibility of holding event-relatedactivities in Veterinary Colleges and/or Animal/Sheep Husbandry departmentslooks dim. However, professional ethics and obligations don't allow forcancellation/complete neglect of WVD 2020. Have to look for workable andacceptable alternatives. Online/virtual mode seems the only viable option.Trust me, not a stolen idea or a stunt but a belief that we can do it. Wherethere is a will there is a way. Conducting theme-based webinars, quizcompetitions, education sessions for students and public health workers, publicoutreach through newspapers, radio/TV talks, social media etc can at leastsatiate our appetite for observing World Veterinary Day Twenty20 amid COVID-19pandemic.
Views are personnel
(Aijaz Ahmad Dar, PhD (Veterinary Medicine) is SMS – Animal Science, KVK Kupwara, SKUAST Kashmir & Arif Mushtaq Bhat is Research Scholar, FVSc & AH, Shuhama Alusteng)