World Veterinary Association: Making a world of difference

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The World Veterinary Association held a round of meetings that coincided with the AVMA Annual Convention in Salt Lake City. "I have brought the WVA Council with me!" Dr. Jim Edwards, WVA president, told those gathered for the House of Delegates session July 20. "Take this opportunity to meet with us," he urged AVMA members.
An international flavor prevailed as representatives came together from the United States, New Zealand (Dr. Edwards), Tunisia, Namibia, Canada, Japan, Australia, Czech Republic, Belgium, Slovenia, Denmark, and Panama.
Committee meeting of the World Veterinary Association in Salt Lake City
Members and guests at a committee meeting of the WVA Council in Salt Lake City: Dr. Harold Zweighaft, WVA representative to the United Nations; Dr. Jim Edwards, WVA president; Dr. H. Leon Russell, councillor, North America; Drs. Herbert Schneider and Faouzi Kechrid, WVA vice presidents; and Dr. El Hicheri.

Dr. Edwards said the WVA decided to convene with the AVMA "as an appreciation of the AVMA rejoining the World Veterinary Association."

He told delegates that the AVMA has demonstrated its leadership in the veterinary profession through its active participation in WVA affairs. The AVMA is a major contributor to the development of WVA policies. The world association is the recognized representative of the veterinary profession in all major world organizations such as the United Nations and the Office Internationale des Epizooties.

The WVA convenes its annual Council Meeting (as well as the Presidents' Assembly) in conjunction with a major event in one of its member countries. The decision to schedule the meetings to coincide was Dr. Edwards' initiative to bring formerly closed WVA meetings into the open and encourage communication. The WVA Executive Committee, Foundation, and technical and administrative committees also met in Salt Lake City.

Dr. Leon H. Russell, WVA council member representing North America, also addressed the AVMA HOD. He made available copies of a 1999-2000 WVA activity report he compiled that details the organization's structure and function, activities at the World Veterinary Congress in Lyon (France), and developments since the congress.

At the invitation of the WVA, the president-elect of the International Veterinary Students Association participated in the meeting. The WVA is looking into a closer working relationship with the student association, which would require constitutional changes to be approved by the Presidents' Assembly.

Among the priorities the WVA worked on were formulating educational policies and seeking regional implementation of accreditation systems for veterinary schools. Participants discussed the long-term goal of developing global accreditation standards. The Committee on Education and Development has come up with a two-year action plan that involves compiling a list of veterinary training institutions and regional accreditation systems, and setting guidelines to assist veterinary schools in meeting educational standards. Industry funding would be sought.

The WVA adopted a policy "On the Use and Care of Animals Used in Testing, Research, and Training" that endorses nine global guidelines and states that "such animals must be used humanely and with due consideration for their well-being." Another animal health and welfare policy, "Animal Care and Use in Agriculture and Science," was adopted as a background paper.

Several technical policies were adopted. "Veterinary Involvement in the Restructuring of Public Health Services" states: "Projects or actions aimed at the restructuring of public health services should consider that veterinarians with expertise in veterinary public health and hygiene are able to fulfill important services in areas of food hygiene and safety." "The Stable to Table Approach" states that the production of safe food of animal origin for human and animal consumption should incorporate the principles of the WVA 'Stable to Table' approach, which is a farm-to-plate concept of food safety and animal health.

The policy on "Genetic Modifications in Animals" states: "The WVA supports the use of modern genetic modification techniques (including recombinant DNA, gene deletions, gene reassortments and gene therapy in their various forms) as they represent a valid extension of traditional methods of genetic manipulation of micro-organisms, plants and animals (such as selection based on phenotypic traits, inbreeding, crossbreeding and various methods of mutagenesis and attenuation) but only where they are used for the benefit of human and/or animal health and welfare; and following a careful consideration of the ethical, safety and scientific issues involved."

The WVA Council continued planning an annual informational resource to be published by Kensington Publications in the UK on veterinary medicine throughout the world. The plan is to send the publication in bulk to veterinary associations in member countries as well as to stakeholders such as agricultural industry leaders and legislators.

Other topics discussed were antimicrobial resistance, relief for natural emergencies, and the KPMG LLP economic study, which Dr. Edwards said "has ramifications around the world."

Under the administrative category, the WVA Council adopted guidelines for interaction with commercial enterprises and a policy/strategy on disseminating public information.

The association conferred honorary membership on immediate past president Dr. Apostolos Rantsios of Greece to recognize his contributions to the WVA.

The next WVA Council meeting will be hosted by the Australian Veterinary Association, May 16-18, 2001.