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World Veterinary Day provides a great opportunity to celebrate the work of veterinarians and other veterinary service providers around the world. And GALVmed wants to take the opportunity to recognize the contributions of our many veterinary partners for their continued support to our mission of bringing animal health solutions closer to smallholder farmers in developing countries.

As we mark this important day for veterinarians around the world, we also realize that much more work is needed to improve veterinary service provision to smallholder farmers, especially to those in remote, rural communities.

In industrialized countries where livestock production is a commercial business, the veterinary profession is well developed, with public and private veterinary practitioners ensuring disease control, food security, registrations and oversight of distribution and sales of animal health products, safe trade of animals and animal-derived products, production and services to livestock owners. In contrast, many livestock farmers in low-and middle-income countries lack regular access to quality veterinary services. This often leaves farmers with no choice but to self-diagnose, let disease run its course or procure and use veterinary medicines of uncertain origin or quality in unsupervised manner.

Small-scale livestock keepers everywhere recognise the benefits of quality veterinary medicines and advice that veterinary professionals can provide. Africa and South Asia are teeming with young people who could be trained and mentored to provide veterinary care. But a lot needs to be done to make the profession more attractive especially in remote areas, so that young and enterprising veterinarians, certified veterinary paraprofessionals and veterinary health technicians can set up a functioning chain of command linking public and private services in a manner that is efficient and economically viable for all participants.

Finally, I would like to briefly reflect on this year’s theme of environmental protection for improving animal and human health, which could not have been more apt given the global pandemic currently ravaging the world. The outbreak of COVID-19 reminds us why provision of animal health services is increasingly crucial in preventing zoonotic and other infectious diseases and ensuring the global food supply. The health of animals and humans are intrinsically linked. Addressing animal diseases directly improves human health, well-being, and nutrition and is urgently needed everywhere, including in low- and middle-income countries. Now more than ever, GALVmed is determined to play its role within a coordinated global approach among medical, veterinary and other relevant private and public sector players and professionals to prevent disease, human and animal suffering and food scarcity, particularly in the vulnerable southern hemisphere.

This post was written by Carolin Schumacher, Chief Executive, GALVmed