Veterinary schools work across international borders

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A program meant to reduce the gap in scientific expertise between developed and developing countries by engaging veterinary colleges has announced its first project.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) announced July 9 that the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and Chiang Mai University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Thailand will participate in the inaugural Veterinary Education Twinning project.

According to the OIE, this program involves “creating and supporting a link that facilitates the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and experience between two veterinary education establishments.” Twinning has been adopted by the OIE as a method for improving institutional capacity and expertise in developing and in-transition countries.

The twinning program, therefore, is expected to create opportunities for these countries to develop modern educational facilities and methods based on accepted international standards. The eventual aim is to create more centers of excellence for veterinary education in geographic areas that are currently underrepresented and to achieve a better balance in the global distribution of well-educated veterinarians, according to the OIE.

Dr. Trevor Ames, dean of Minnesota’s veterinary college, said in the OIE press release that the project will benefit both institutions as they strive to enhance the capacity of their veterinary graduates to support the control of transboundary diseases and zoonoses and strengthen the veterinary services of both countries.

The two-year Chiang Mai-Minnesota Veterinary Education Twinning Project aims to ensure that graduates from these veterinary colleges meet the OIE “day-one competencies” developed by OIE’s ad hoc Group on Veterinary Education. AVMA CEO Ron DeHaven chairs this group comprising nine other international veterinary authorities (see JAVMA, Aug. 1, 2011).

This group will meet next during the third annual OIE Global Conference on Veterinary Education, to be held Dec. 4-6 in Foz do Iguazu, Brazil. The conference will address the need for better global harmonization of veterinary education worldwide, based on OIE guidelines. It will also focus on strengthening the role of veterinary statutory bodies in regulating veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals, ensuring their qualifications and ethics.