Written by Dr. Samuel Akpan
Today, Saturday 25th April 2020, veterinarians all around the world mark the World Veterinary Day. Instituted by the World Veterinary Association (WVA) in the year 2000, it is a day specially set aside to celebrate the veterinary profession, achievements and lofty contributions of veterinary medicine to science, research & development, wildlife and ecosystem conservation, food safety, animal and public health. Globally, it is celebrated on every last Saturday in the month of April.
This year’s theme: “Environmental Protection for Improving Animal and Human Health“, could not have been more befitting than at this time when the globe is being threatened by climate change impacts to our ecosystem and several diseases with direct links to our environmental health such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Lassa fever, and other infectious diseases. According to World Vet, “as One Health advocates, veterinarians know that environmental, human and animal health are inextricably linked and Negative changes to our environment will ultimately harm ourselves and the animals in our care”. Also, this year’s theme further agrees with the United Nations SDG Goal 13 (climate action), SDG Goal 14 (Life below water), and SDG Goal 15 (Life on land), all of which the veterinary profession subscribes to and works globally to achieve.
Veterinarians, by virtue of training and job roles, have spearheaded global environmental protection efforts. They have championed cutting-edge researches aimed at mitigating environmental degradation and promotion of biodiversity. For centuries, animal disease occurrences have long been used as biomarkers for the early detection of environmental breaches, which also signal impending health risks to humans. Veterinarians possess broad-spectrum scientific capabilities that find application across a wide array of disciplines. From issues of climate change, air pollution, ecosystem bio-remediation, wildlife protection, waste management, and aquatic biodiversity conservation, and combating the proliferation of bioweaponry, veterinarians have played a huge role in ensuring that global environmental challenges of the 21st century are contained and mitigated.
Since there is an intricate web that links our environment with human and animal health, it is then very apt to state that environmental custodians and protectors determine the fate of human and animal life. To this, the veterinary profession stands tall and remains committed to protecting the environment that sustains our animal and human life.
From all of us at One Health and Development Initiative (OHDI) -HAPPY WORLD VETERINARY DAY!
Dr. Samuel Akpan is a veterinarian, a livestock farming consultant and a freelance writer