The first veterinary school may have been founded in Lyon, France, in 1761, but the 250th anniversary of the occasion will be celebrated worldwide.
National and international veterinary groups are calling 2011 "World Veterinary Year" to honor the creation of the Veterinary School of Lyon (see page).
"Certainly the public appreciates all that veterinarians do, especially as it relates to the care of our pets. And while that is very important, veterinarians do so much more, from advances in the area of biomedical research, to promoting public health and food safety, and even supporting our troops around the globe. World Veterinary Year gives us an opportunity to raise awareness and appreciation for all that veterinarians do for the public that goes well beyond care of our pets."
—DR. RON DEHAVEN, AVMA CEO
"World Veterinary Year gives us something in common with our colleagues around the world. We're bringing together veterinarians from around the globe, whether in West Africa or South America or Europe. We all have common goals, common concerns, and common aspirations," said Dr. Ron DeHaven, AVMA CEO.
Vet2011 is the organization, headquartered in France, that is coordinating World Veterinary Year events around the globe. Internationally, three major events will serve as the highlights of the year:
- The official Vet2011 Opening Ceremony, Jan. 24 in Versailles, France. The director general of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), president of the World Veterinary Association, and other dignitaries are expected to be on hand to provide a welcome to the invitational event. Approximately 800 people are expected to attend. It will be organized by the French Veterinary Academy and National Veterinary School of Alfort, which was founded three years after Lyon, in 1764.
- The World Conference on Veterinary Education, May 13-15 in Lyon, which is open to registrants. It is the second such meeting—the first being in October 2009 in Paris—held on the initiative of the OIE and WVA. This year's conference will elaborate on a plan to create harmonized, adaptable educational techniques for each of the participating countries.
- The International Closing Ceremony of the World Veterinary Year, Oct. 10-14 in Cape Town, South Africa. The event will be held in conjunction with the WVA's 30th World Veterinary Congress and also is open to registrants.
More than 30 other events have been officially recognized by the Vet2011 organization and will take place throughout the year, from a basketball tournament organized by the Lithuanian Veterinary Association to rabies vaccination events in Indian veterinary hospitals to an exhibition on the history of medical treatment of horses in Belgium. In all, there are more than 405 corresponding members of Vet2011 from 78 countries.
In the United States, the AVMA—part of the 11-member executive committee of Vet2011 and leader of the U.S. National Vet2011 Committee—is heading up a number of World Veterinary Year initiatives. They include the following:
- Organizing a one-day international symposium July 17 during the AVMA Annual Convention in St. Louis titled World Veterinary Year: 250 Years of Improving Animal and Human Health.
- Securing a presidential proclamation and congressional resolution to officially designate 2011 as World Veterinary Year. Congressional resolutions have been introduced by Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, both of whom are veterinarians (see JAVMA, Aug. 15, 2010). House Resolution 1531 and Senate Resolution 583 would express congressional support for designation of 2011 as World Veterinary Year. S. 583 was passed Sept. 23, 2010.
- Producing a traveling World Veterinary Year exhibit highlighting the critical role veterinarians play in protecting and promoting animal health, human health, and ecosystem health, to be available for use by the AVMA and other U.S. national committee member organizations.
- Facilitating a student exchange program between U.S. veterinary schools and colleges and the Veterinary School of Lyon.
- Hosting a veterinary exchange student at the AVMA Governmental Relations Division in Washington, D.C., and at AVMA headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill.
- Providing return-address labels with the Vet2011 logo to AVMA members renewing their membership for 2011.
- Creating Vet2011 promotional products and keepsakes, including lapel pins, luggage tags, key chains, and crystal paperweights.
Along with the AVMA, the 23 other members of the U.S. national committee intend to raise awareness of World Veterinary Year by each planning their own events and activities.
Organizations such as the AVMA and American Animal Hospital Association will run World Veterinary Year-related stories in their respective publications.
The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges has taken a creative approach. For example, students from each AAVMC member institution will be encouraged to nominate, select, and profile a veterinary faculty member who was educated in another country and is now working full time at one of their schools. This project, whose results will be published in an undetermined format, will enable students to better appreciate the impact that faculty from other countries are having on their education because of their international backgrounds, said Dr. Donald F. Smith, AAVMC's Vet2011 liaison.
The National Library of Medicine will have an exhibition, "From Crafts to Profession," at its library in Bethesda, Md., from July to September. It will feature rare books and early manuscripts on veterinary medicine. The NLM will also work in conjunction with the Medical University Library of Paris and Musee Fragonard, the veterinary museum of Paris, to coordinate exhibitions and create a website.
Meanwhile, the One Health Initiative is assisting in an effort by the AVMA and American Medical Association to create a resolution for the AMA House of Delegates to consider in June in recognition of World Veterinary Year.
Plus, the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has planned several events, including an opening and closing ceremony in which speakers will emphasize the importance of veterinarians who work in the agency and what they do for its public health mission, said Dr. Jessica Forshee, a recall management staff officer with the USDA FSIS.
"We think our mission of public health fits right in with the public health concept that started the school," Dr. Forshee said. "Veterinarians have a long history with our agency … and have made some quite notable contributions to public health and the profession."
The genus Salmonella, for instance, was named after Daniel Elmer Salmon, an American veterinary pathologist who helped identify the bacterial disease. This was while he was administrator of the USDA research program in the late 19th century.
Dr. DeHaven said the fact that veterinarians have been serving society for 250 years is important and relevant.
"Certainly the public appreciates all that veterinarians do, especially as it relates to the care of our pets. And while that is very important, veterinarians do so much more, from advances in the area of biomedical research to promoting public health and food safety and even supporting our troops around the globe. World Veterinary Year gives us an opportunity to raise awareness and appreciation for all that veterinarians do for the public that goes well beyond care of our pets," Dr. DeHaven said.
Coincidentally driving home this fact, he points out, is that the celebration is happening the same year global health officials anticipate declaring the world free of rinderpest, a devastating disease of livestock that was one of the drivers for founding the school in Lyon. But World Veterinary Year isn't all about looking back on the past, he added.
"Some of it is a pat on the back for a job well done, but it's also an encouragement to achieve great things in the future," Dr. DeHaven said.
For more information on World Veterinary Year, visit www.vet2011.org or https://www.avma.org/News/JAVMANews/Pages/091101j.aspx