National conference focuses on animal health in Appalachia

Published on November 18, 2015
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The Center for Animal Health in Appalachia (CAHA), whose mission it is to improve both animal and public health throughout Appalachia, held its first national conference on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University-College of Veterinary Medicine (LMUCVM) on Oct. 14-15.

The conference included presentations and discussions on issues ranging from economic drivers to animal health and one health issues to federal legislation and public policy. AVMA officials participating in the meeting were Dr. Joe Kinnarney, AVMA president; Dr. Michael Dicks, director of veterinary economics; and Gina Luke, assistant director of governmental relations who also serves as a CAHA Advisory Board member.

Dr. Kinnarney congratulated LMU for preparing the future veterinary workforce of Appalachia and for exhorting students to deliver veterinary care in rural America. Dr. Dicks discussed the impact of dense populations on veterinary services. Demand for veterinarians in suburban areas is higher than in rural areas, which can make it a challenge for veterinarians in the region to earn a living. Luke discussed the merits of the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, the newly authorized Veterinary Services Grant Program and the role that the federal government can play in addressing veterinary care in the region.

Dr. Lonnie King, former dean of The Ohio State University-College of Veterinary Medicine, gave a keynote address on one health and social relevance. His central message was that one health can change the scope, scale and potential impact or relevance of the veterinary profession.

During the conference, the CAHC released the 2015 State of Animal Health in Appalachia report, which shows a distribution of livestock, pets and veterinarians in 420 Appalachian counties in 13 states and a total of 7,178 practicing veterinarians within the region. Within the Appalachian footprint, there are an estimated 13.8 million small animals and 13.7 million large animals with an estimated herd size worth $42 billion. It is estimated that veterinarians practicing in Appalachia provide 57,424 jobs, an average of about eight people per practice. These practices provide an estimated $2.3 billion to the Appalachian economy.

Check out photos taken at the CAHC conference on Flickr.

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