Veterinarians are a special group of health care professionals and scientists because they prevent disease in animals and treat animals of all kinds around the world. Healthy animals also contribute to happier and healthier people.
In 2000, the World Veterinary Association initiated World Veterinary Day on the last Saturday of April each year to bring attention to the many ways veterinarians contribute to the health and well-being of animals and people around the world. Most people know veterinarians as the “animal doctors” for our companions, livestock, horses, and a variety of more diverse animals such as zoo animals and exotic companions such as birds, reptiles, and small mammals.
Yet, veterinarians also are involved in public health to improve the health and welfare of animals, people and the environment, known as “One Health”. Veterinarians investigate disease outbreaks that can be contagious from animals to humans, called zoonotic diseases, like rabies, bird flu and Ebola. They do research to develop vaccines and cures for diseases in animals that can also help cure and prevent diseases in people. They develop policies and promote laws to improve the care and welfare of animals around the world. They care for animals that are used for food, so that beef, pork, fish, and poultry products are safe and nutritious for people.Veterinarians are actively involved around the world in education, responsible use of medicines for animals for pain and illness, surveillance to detect and diagnose animal disease conditions, and environmental protection. Veterinarians care about the health and well-being of animals, people, and the environment we share together because animals affect human health.
On April 30, World Veterinary Day 2016 will promote continuing education for veterinarians in one health.
“The recent Ebola epidemic as well as the too numerous human deaths caused each year by rabies, dreadfully remind us of the strong links existing between the health of people, animals and environment and consequently the need for multi-sectoral approaches illustrated through the ‘One Health’ concept,” according to the announcement for World Veterinary Day 2016.
The announcement states that the theme for the year “focuses on how veterinarians continue their education efforts to increase their expertise on One Health topics, such as zoonotic diseases, food safety or antimicrobial resistance, and how they collaborate with the human health sector to tackle these issues.”
In 2015, World Veterinary Day raised awareness of vector-borne diseases with zoonotic potential. The College of Veterinarians of Costa Rica and Costa Rican National Animal Health Service won the 2015 World Veterinary Day Award for a campaign to promote awareness and prevention of equine encephalitis and West Nile fever.