The American Veterinary Medical Association has played a role in veterinary education, animal welfare, animal health policy, association building, and other issues on an international level for many decades. But it was not until the establishment of the AVMA Committee on International Veterinary Affairs (CIVA) in 2007 that a strong, centralized infrastructure was created to help the Association take on a proactive role in international veterinary medicine.
The CIVA, in its advisory role to the AVMA Board of Directors, is charged with evaluating trends and activities that enhance and sustain the AVMA's role in global veterinary medicine, and proposing programs, initiatives, and strategic partnerships to create and enhance global opportunities for AVMA and SAVMA members. With establishment of the CIVA, the AVMA has been better able to focus its international work, which in turn has increased human health in a global environment. In 2014 and with a new AVMA strategic management process in development, the CIVA elected to record the history of AVMA involvement in international veterinary medicine through 2013. It is hoped that this document will serve as background for future understanding of the Association's role in the global community and development of new tactices to help advance its strategic plan.
In recent years the AVMA has turned to the global stage to advance its strategic goals, particularly in the areas of animal welfare and veterinary education, and has worked hard to ensure that the U.S. veterinary profession's voice is heard in international settings. Much of this work has involved collaboration and engagement with other veterinary and scientific organizations working on an international level. These efforts have included:
- Appointing representatives to serve on committees, task forces and working groups affiliated with the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which was established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in the 1960s to develop international food standards, guidelines, and related texts. AVMA representatives to Codex groups have assisted in addressing such issues as animal feeding, food hygiene, and veterinary drug residue in foods.
- Working with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the intergovernmental organization responsible for improving animal health worldwide. For more than a decade, the AVMA has been the sole veterinary professional association invited to appoint a representative to the U.S. Delegation to the OIE Annual General Assembly.
- Working with other international veterinary associations, including the World Veterinary Association; World Small Animal Veterinary Association; Panamerican Association for Veterinary Sciences; and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe, and developing coalitions such as the International Veterinary Officers Council and North American Veterinary Leadership group to develop strategies to address common challenges and opportunities across borders.
- Providing guidance to new veterinary associations in other countries, such as the Afghanistan Veterinary Association, Iraqi Veterinary Syndicate, and Chinese Veterinary Medical Association.
Many of these activities are overseen by the AVMA's Committee on International Veterinary Affairs, which reports directly to the AVMA Board of Directors. AVMA members interested in international veterinary affairs might consider serving on the Committee on International Veterinary Affairs.
International Coordination of Veterinary Education
Through the Council on Education (COE) and Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), the AVMA has assured the quality of veterinary medical and technician education throughout the United States for decades. But the Association's involvement in ensuring quality medical education extends well beyond the national boarders of the United States.
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association participates in the Council on Education's accreditation activities, and all Canadian veterinary schools are accredited by the Council on Education. In addition, the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities has a mutual recognition policy encouraging veterinary state boards to recognize technician schools accredited by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and vice versa.
Throughout the world, international veterinary schools meeting the Council on Education's accreditation standards may voluntarily seek accreditation, and several COE-accredited international schools are active members of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. Additionally, the AVMA and its Council on Education have been actively engaged in discussing the challenges and opportunities facing veterinary medical education with like-minded entities around the world such as the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council. More recently, the Association has been active in working on post-professional education and certification issues through a liaison between the AVMA's American Board of Veterinary Specialties and the European Board of Veterinary Specialization.
Veterinary Medical Associations Around the World
Almost every country has a veterinary medical association, designed to advance the veterinary profession and protect animal, human, and environmental health. The following are those associations with which the AVMA has collaborated most actively.