Veterinary colleges team up to improve education

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Sheep and shepherd
Livestock in Ethiopia (Courtesy of Dr. Abbey Canon/CFSPH)
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded three veterinary colleges a grant for a two-year project to improve veterinary services in developing nations by advancing educational opportunities.

The project will work to identify and address issues related to the quality of veterinary teaching by developing a digital platform to store educational resources and teaching tools for faculty across the world.

"Our team believes that better-prepared veterinarians will improve animal health and productivity, food security, and public health at the local, country, and regional levels and improve the quality of veterinary services globally," said Dr. Molly Lee, a veterinary specialist at the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

The project includes the CFSPH, the College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Public Health at The Ohio State University, and the School of Veterinary Science and Institute of Education at Massey University in New Zealand.

The beginnings of this project came through the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Veterinary Education Twinning Project. The OSU veterinary college helped the University of Gondar College of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences in Ethiopia conduct a review of its veterinary curriculum, which has been a sort of road map for the next phase of the project, said Dr. Amanda M. Berrian, assistant professor and associate director of the Veterinary Public Health Program at the OSU veterinary college.

"Together, we are taking what we have learned from our years of collaboration and developing learning materials to fill critical training gaps," Dr. Berrian said. "We are aiming to create materials that consider the specific needs and resource challenges of developing countries, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach."

The project will involve the continued collaboration with the University of Gondar and the Royal University of Agriculture Faculty of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine in Cambodia. The resources on the platform will focus on management of herd health, epidemiology of infectious diseases, emerging diseases and disease management, outbreak investigation, biosecurity, products, nutrition, and animal welfare. The tools will be available for testing by the partner institutions in 2020.

"While our direct impact will be on the faculty and veterinary students at veterinary educational establishments, through increased efficiency of livestock and poultry production, reduction in animal diseases and reduction of zoonotic diseases, the ultimate beneficiaries will be animal owners and their families," Dr. Lee said. "Another important component of this project is to develop a gender-sensitive curriculum as many of the caretakers and owners of small livestock are women who face gender inequalities at multiple levels of the value chain."

The project team worked closely with the Gates Foundation during the planning stage and application process, Dr. Lee said. The team will continue to involve the foundation to ensure that the outcomes and the relationship are mutually beneficial.