This year’s World Veterinary Day held on Saturday 24 April, was the perfect opportunity to celebrate the important contribution of veterinarians to the health of animals, people and the environment during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“Veterinarians undertake essential work to ensure the optimal health and welfare of all animals, including companion animals, livestock and wildlife,” Australia’s chief veterinary officer Dr Mark Schipp said.
“During this pandemic, veterinarians have continued their vital work amidst the challenges of social distancing restrictions, increased use of personal protective equipment, and a surge in demand for veterinary care.
“This includes during natural disasters such as the recent floods in New South Wales and contributing to the successful eradication of avian influenza exotic disease outbreaks in Victoria.”
But veterinarians do more than just treating animals, Dr Schipp continued.
“They are involved in disease surveillance, agricultural trade negotiations, food safety inspection, laboratory, research and One Health activities that keep our animals and community healthy and safe from exotic pests and diseases such as African swine fever and lumpy skin disease.
“If either of these diseases established in Australia, they could lead to the closure of major export markets with serious economic and social effects.”
The global COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of One Health and how a disease potentially emerging from an animal source can impact humans.
Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Andrew Metcalfe, said the department was one of Australia’s largest employers of veterinarians, and that departmental vets had been deeply involved in the response to this pandemic.
“Some of our veterinary epidemiologists have been seconded to the Department of Health—assisting with the Government’s COVID-19 response, and other veterinarians in the department working to ensure future potential pandemics are prevented at their source,” Metcalfe said.
“Veterinary work is diverse and indispensable. This important work responding to the threat of diseases, including diseases which can spread from animals to humans, coupled with the work veterinarians do to improve animal welfare and farm productivity, helps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all Australians.
“On World Veterinary Day, we thank all veterinarians. Your work and dedication to the animals—and communities you help every day is truly valued, and we celebrate you.”