The World Veterinarian Day was created in 2000 by the World Veterinary Association to highlight and promote the lifesaving work performed by veterinarians around the globe.
Uganda has been celebrating the day for more than ten years ever since the day was inaugurated 16 years ago.
This year’s celebration is on April 30, focused on promoting continuing education for veterinarians in one health.
The purpose of this year’s theme is to create public awareness on the role of veterinarians and the importance of continuing veterinary education in One Health.
Veterinarians play a crucial role in protecting human health by keeping animal diseases away from humans.
All areas of the veterinary profession, provide opportunities and responsibilities to improve the health and welfare of animals, and therefore, to improve the health of humans.
Uganda requires a very good performance of the national Veterinary Services both in the public and private components, not only to successfully control diseases, but also to tackle food safety issues and to effectively prevent and control any biological disasters.
This is possible if the veterinarians are well trained to preserve animal health and welfare, as well as to tackle public health issues.
Continuing Education is therefore necessary for veterinarians to keep their knowledge updated with the latest developments, skills, and new technologies required enabling them to efficiently control health risks at their animal source.
Veterinarians subscribe to a unique order of people as the profession is characterized and challenged by variety of species and health problems.
This variety is manifested in the number of diseases shared between animals and humans called zoonoses or zoonotic diseases which can only be best prevented at the animal source by veterinarians.
Therefore, this year, the WVD’s theme 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.
The zoonotic diseases are becoming a serious public health concern and are caused by variety of agents (bacteria, viruses, fungus, and several other parasites.
They affect millions of people especially in developing countries, although most of them can be prevented.
According to various authorities, there are a total of 1,415 pathogens known to infect humans and 61%-75% of these are of animal origin.
Globally, we are currently hit by newly emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases including highly resistant pathogens. These pathogens are causing death toll across the globe with serious economic challenges requiring billions of US dollars to intervene.
These challenges requires new approaches and hence One Health that uses multidisciplinary teams from various health related professionals working together to solve/address these complex health challenges.
Rabies as a disease for example among so many others provides a clear need of one health approach to control the disease.
In Uganda, case of rabies among humans are alarming and in most cases dogs are responsible for the transmission through dog bites.
It is because of this that today I announce to the whole Country that effective Monday today 25th April 2016, we are launching a Countrywide Rabies prevention awareness campaign and vaccination of dogs and cats and all other susceptible domestic animals in a bid to reduce and end the problem of rabies in the Country.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries has procured some rabies vaccine which makes it more effective to prevent the disease in the animals than waiting to treat the humans once infected.
Treatment of rabies in humans is costly and takes long to complete a dose after exposure to rabies.
This programme will be carried out the whole week and after this World Veterinary Day Celebrations, it will be rolled out countrywide till the next World Rabies Day in September when we will pose to assess the impact made in the five months.
I also wish to announce that from 25-30/4/2016, there will be a series of Radio/TV Talk shows and News Paper supplement.
There will also be community outreaches with students and field veterinarians (community sensitization and vaccination against Rabies in all the Divisions in Kampala from 26-29/4/2016 including Vet Medical Camp at Makerere Freedom Square (27-28/4/2016).
You are urged to present your animals for the camp at Makerere University Freedom square and College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources & Biosecurity (COVAB) small animal clinic for consultation, vaccination and surgeries.
On 28/4/2016, there will be “One Health” Scientific Symposium and 30th April 2016 will be the d-day for celebrating the day with His Excellence, The President of Republic of Uganda as the Chief Guest.
In conclusion, I appeal to those training veterinarians that the provision of high quality veterinary education is key to equipping the potential veterinarians with the necessary knowledge to perform efficiently and to support Veterinary Services effectively.
Veterinary education needs to be strengthened, with particular emphasis on building competencies in all areas including professional ethics.
To control the zoonoses, we need improved screening and diagnostic tools as well as sufficient coverage and enhanced cross-border collaboration.
All animal owners need to cooperate in disease prevention programmes and promptly report disease cases in their animals. For diseases that have available vaccines, the animals need routine vaccination to prevent disease occurrence.
We need integrated multisecotoral and multi-disciplinary activities in a “One Health” approach in the control and surveillance programs that lead to food safety and protection and to the prevention, control, or eradication of zoonoses and communicable diseases common to man and animals including prevention of antimicrobial resistance.
Hon. Lt Col. Bright Rwamirama, is the Minister of State for Animal Industry Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries