November 15, 2002


 Russell elected WVA vice president; AVMA to host next world congress, in 2005

Cultural and linguistic barriers could not stand in the way of professional understanding as the global profession of veterinary medicine gathered for the World Veterinary Association's 27th triennial congress, held in Tunis, Tunisia, in September. Shared challenges in the areas of food safety and animal welfare illustrated to attendees that there are a greater number of similarities than differences among veterinarians internationally.

The new president of the World Veterinary Association, Dr. Herbert Schneider of Namibia (third left), offers his congratulations on the AVMA's selection to host the 2005 World Veterinary Congress, in Minneapolis, to (from left) Drs. James E. Creed, James E. Nave, James H. Brandt, and Leon H. Russell.

The profession in the United States continues to be a world leader. Dr. Leon H. Russell, who served as AVMA president in 1993-1994, was elected as one of two vice presidents of the WVA. Dr. Herbert Schneider of Namibia was elected WVA president, replacing Dr. James Edwards of New Zealand.

Dr. Russell had been one of the two councilors for the North American continent, representing the United States. Former AVMA president (2000-2001), Dr. James E. Nave, will now fill that position. In addition to Drs. Russell and Nave representing the AVMA at the congress, Drs. James H. Brandt and James E. Creed were in attendance to observe the meeting. Dr. Brandt is AVMA Executive Board chair and immediate past president. Dr. Creed is the Companion Animal Section manager for the AVMA Convention Meeting and Planning Committee.

"We are fortunate in having Drs. Russell and Nave on the WVA board," Dr. Brandt said. "Their avma experience will help advance the WVA more rapidly as it develops its mission statement and objectives."

Three members of the AVMA staff were also part of the AVMA contingent to the congress: Dr. Donald G. Simmons, director of the Education and Research Division; David Little, newly named director of the Convention and Meeting Planning Division (see page 1370); and James R. Flanigan, director of marketing.

The WVA President's Assembly unanimously chose Minneapolis as the site of the 28th World Veterinary Congress in July 2005. The AVMA will be the host organization for the 2005 congress. The 142nd AVMA Annual Convention will be held simultaneously in Minneapolis. Since the congress was started in 1863, it has been held in the United States only once before—in New York City in 1934. The AVMA is anticipating in excess of 5,000 international guests in 2005.

At the WVA council meeting the day before his election as a WVA vice president, Dr. Leon H. Russell (center) engages in deliberations. Seated next to him are Dr. James Edwards of New Zealand, WVA immediate past president, and Dr. Yukio Igarashi, president of the Japan VMA.

"We were very happy about winning the nomination," Dr. Brandt said. "By being a member and active participant in the WVA, we can help bring countries closer together on issues such as global accreditation."

Tunisian conference organizers report that more than 3,000 registrants from 116 countries participated in the 2002 World Veterinary Congress. All lectures, encompassing more than 300 hours of programming, were simultaneously translated between Arabic, French, and English.

With large numbers of attendees from northern Africa, the Middle East, and the developing world, the largest portion of the program was reserved for topics on food animal health, herd management, and implementation of national public health and food safety programs.

Veterinarians from the United States chaired, moderated, or served as speakers for more than 50 sessions ranging from disaster relief to military veterinary medicine, and from educational accreditation to zoonoses and epidemiology.

Dr. Simmons shared the philosophy behind the AVMA's accreditation process for veterinary colleges with attendees during the opening plenary session. During the days that followed, Dr. Simmons provided details on the process to international academicians seeking to raise their educational standards up to those of the United States.

At the opening plenary session, Dr. Donald G. Simmons addresses a topic of considerable interest in the global veterinary community—the AVMA accreditation process.

Dr. Brandt foresees foreign languages being the greatest challenge for the AVMA in planning the 2005 congress. According to Drs. Brandt and Creed, simultaneous translation will be necessary at least into French and Spanish, and possibly into German and Japanese, depending on what the preregistration indications are.

Dr. Creed applauded the Tunisians for arranging to have registrants met at the airport by individuals who spoke their language. Another thing the 2005 organizers may want to consider for Minneapolis, Dr. Brandt said, would be kiosks with computers programmed in several languages, where foreign visitors could look up the congress program or even local restaurant menus and directions to get there.

Tunisia was an appropriate place for this international gathering. Situated on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the country has been an international port of call for thousands of years. The site of the Punic Wars, Roman occupation, and French colonialism, Tunisia has a diverse and multicultural society. Signs of dramatic growth and progress abound with new business parks and residential subdivisions dotting newly constructed streets and highways all along the coast.

"Tunisians are very gracious hosts. I felt like we had a place of honor," Dr. Brandt said. "Other countries think highly about the American system and the way the AVMA is run, and model many of their programs and procedures after the AVMA standards.

"Tunisia is a beautiful area of the world, and if that small democracy, surrounded by Algeria and Libya, can keep its momentum, it will influence development and progress in North Africa, and a better relationship between all nations of the area."