Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Need for Veterinarians in Public Health

Public health is inextricably linked by the interactions of people, animals, and with the surrounding, is particularly more in regions where animals are utilized in transportation, fuel, proteins, cloth etc. However, this can lead to a serious risk and spreads contagious diseases to public health. Veterinarians have a crucial role in controlling and addressing the interface of these areas and infectious diseases, which have implications on human health as well as that of livestock.

In this 21st century, about 75% of the new diseases that have affected humans over the past 10 years have been caused by pathogens originating from an animal or from products of animal origin. Many of these diseases include zoonotic diseases, food- or waterborne illnesses, and bioterrorism. The outbreaks of SARS, Avian Influenza, Swine flu, Rabies teaching us to integrate animal and public health surveillance. Thus a strong interaction between human and veterinary medicine is necessary for implementing effective public health programs that address the factors influencing the health security such as the international movement of people, animals, and animal products; globalization of food supply chain; antimicrobial resistance of pathogens; climate and environmental changes including those affecting wildlife; interaction between produce production areas and domestic livestock and wildlife; and national and global security.

Veterinary Services is particularly important in areas with inaptly low health service coverage, as is often the case in rural settings of low income countries. One example of collaboration between public health and veterinary services is in providing child vaccination, one of the most cost effective health interventions, in developing countries. In southern Sudan, the Expanded Programme on Immunization shared cold chain equipment with the veterinary service, and the International Red Cross has implemented vaccination campaigns using veterinarians' vehicles. Similar collaborations have been implemented during humanitarian crises such as droughts or civil wars. However, these are unfortunately not highlighted or well documented.

Thus, Veterinary public health is an essential part of public health and includes various types of cooperation between the disciplines that link the health triad, people-animals-environment, and all of its interactions.

Sr. Executive-VJI