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03-04-2007 - The Best of Care to BVA Overseas Group and Global Responsibilities World Veterinary Day (WVD) is held annually on the last Saturday of April and this week (Saturday 28 April) around the world, from Ghana to Japan and Namibia to the United States veterinarians will be celebrating the profession’s diversity by showcasing its contribution to the health and welfare of both people and animals and indeed to the national and international economy, food security and development.

In the UK, with WVD coinciding with National Pet Month and its important emphasis on responsible pet ownership, the benefits of pets for people and people for pets, the role, value and contribution to society of working companion animals and the role of and services available from the profession the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has launched The Best of Care, an on-line guide to professional health care for pets. The leaflet celebrates the diversity of companion animal practice and is designed to assist pet owners by providing an insight into the respective roles of the veterinary practice team and how to go about choosing a veterinary practice as well as explaining the basis for veterinary fees, the value of pet insurance, the process by which medicines are licensed and what to do in the event of problems arising.

The BVA Overseas Group has, however, a global remit and member Professor John Cooper, has made an impassioned contribution to the celebrations from his current base in the West Indies.

“When, on Saturday, World Veterinary Day is commemorated” he said “some will say ‘But what do vets do other than treat pets and visit farms?’ The answer is ‘much, much more.’ As my colleague Tess Sprayson commented “We are probably the only profession that understands the human-animal dynamic that exists to some extent in every community throughout the world. Our daily work involves actions and decisions that affect not only the animals we treat but also their human partners that live and work alongside them. No other profession understands the social implications, epidemiology of disease, biosecurity and public health issues involved.”

Professor Cooper continued “The global role of the veterinary profession has never been more important. The daily movement of people and commodities, including animal products, means that infectious diseases can rapidly spread from one continent to another and threaten the health and lives both animals and humans. Avian influenza, West Nile virus infection, Rift Valley Fever and SARS are but few of the dozens of ‘emerging’ diseases that require a strong veterinary input if there are to be contained and controlled. Vets also play an increasing role in helping to alleviate the burden of rabies – a disease that still kills around 100 children a day.

“Millions of people depend upon animal products – milk, meat, eggs, wool, honey – for their survival. In a world where one in three children go to bed hungry every night, the need to keep such animals healthy is imperative. Those who depend most upon animals for their livelihood are the poor and veterinary surgeons remain at the forefront of those who are involved in ministering to these people and their livestock - often in isolated and sometimes dangerous places,

The BVA Overseas Group works closely with other organisations in the UK and further afield, to help ensure that animals get a fair deal. Whether a pet cat, dog or budgerigar in the Home Countries, fingerling trout on a fish farm in Ayrshire, working donkeys in Syria or milking camels in Kazakhstan, animals need vets if they are to remain healthy and productive and if they are to be spared unnecessary pain and preventable diseases.

“And it is not only domesticated animals that benefit on a daily basis, on every continent, from the skills, knowledge and compassion of veterinarians together with those, such as veterinary nurses, who support them. Wildlife are an increasingly important part of the veterinary surgeon’s responsibilities. There is a growing awareness of the threats that our planet faces as animals and plants become extinct and habitats are destroyed or permanently damaged by such factors as pollution and climate change. As part of measures to counter these changes, members of the veterinary profession participate in conservation programmes and the promotion of ‘ecosystem health’.

“On World Veterinary Day 2007 it is fitting to recognise the part played by the veterinary profession in providing care for ‘all creatures great and small’, the millions of people for whom animals are essential and the fragile world in which they live.”

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