In April 1863, Professor John Gamgee initiated a meeting of veterinarians and professors of veterinary medicine from all over Europe. This conference attracted 103 veterinary professionals from 10 countries. Professor Gamgee initiated this meeting to discuss ways to fight epizootic disease (outbreaks of animal disease), and establish rules for importing/exporting cattle. This marked the first meeting of the International Veterinary Congress, which later became The World Veterinary Association (WVA).
A lot has changed in the past 150 years! Today, the WVA represents over 500,000 veterinarians from around the world and holds meetings to exchange ideas, share experiences, and promote and develop veterinary medicine. The mission of WVA is “To assure and promote animal health and welfare and public health globally, through developing and advancing veterinary medicine, the veterinary profession as well as public and private veterinary services.”
Food security, food safety, animal welfare, and disease prevention (animal and human) have become a global concern as we have become a global economy, making international partnership key. In order to meet the needs of our global society, the WVA partners with other international associations (for example The World Medical Association, The World Health Organization, and The Food and Agriculture Organization).
When you hear the word veterinarian, you may think of your veterinarian at your local clinic and consider that the work they do is limited to caring for community pets. This is not the case. They are likely engaged in the global veterinary community by being a member of a national or international association under the WVA. Information and data are collected and shared with the veterinary community. Their contribution to national and international veterinary medicine is paramount in keeping animals, the environment, and humans healthy. Additionally, veterinarians work for various global organizations to ensure food safety for human consumption.
World Veterinary Day was created by the WVA to celebrate the veterinary profession. Each year a theme for the event is chosen to promote animal health, which is tied to human health. Veterinarians should be acknowledged for their contribution to the improvement of veterinary medicine on a global scale. The next time you see your veterinarian, remember to say a big Thank You, not only for caring for your furry or feathered friend, but for contributing to the global health of animals, humans, and the environment!