International Day of Veterinary Medicine 2021

On 9th December it’s International Day of Veterinary Medicine – a day to celebrate and champion the organizations and individuals working to promote the health and wellbeing of animals. This year, HealthforAnimals want to recognize the extraordinary work that veterinarians do to support animal health.
We know that the work of veterinarians goes well beyond the (incredibly important) job of caring for beloved pets. Veterinarians play a role in reducing and eradicating animal disease, providing frontline care to both pets and livestock and protecting human health against the rise of zoonotic diseases that spread from animals to humans.
So, in today’s Big Read we are championing the vital roles veterinarians play in tackling global health challenges.

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The connections between animals, humans and the environment mean that improving and protecting global health requires a One Health approach. From preventing zoonotic disease to feeding a growing global population, we are facing global health challenges that can only be tackled through a huge collaborative effort.
Veterinarians contribute to tackling these challenges in many ways. Here, we highlight three vital roles:
1. Feeding a growing population: The global population is predicted to grow to 9.6 billion by 2050, an increase that will require a 70% increase in food production to keep everyone fed. The role veterinarians play in protecting the health of livestock supports food security, livelihoods, and adequate nutrition for billions of people. And this role extends beyond treating and preventing illness – veterinarians also advise on housing, diet, and hygiene to increase productivity and protect animal welfare.
2. Protecting against zoonotic disease: In the past 30 years, 75% of all emerging human infectious diseases started in animals. Keeping animals healthy is clearly an important part of halting the spread of disease from animals to humans, but it is only one element. Veterinarians must also navigate the potential conflict in interest between human and animal health, as well as the economic pressures of the food industry.
3. Tackling antimicrobial resistance: Inappropriate use of antibiotics can lead to resistance among the microorganisms they’re designed to kill and lead to a future where these medicines can no longer control these threats. Its why antibiotic resistance is a global public health threat to both animal and human health. Veterinarians play a vital role in ensuring prudent use of antibiotics, reducing the need for use and managing resistance in animals.
It’s clear that veterinarians are working hard to protect the health of animals and humans around the world. But they can’t do it alone. The stresses and strains of this responsibility are highlighted by recent surveys of those in the profession, with reports of high levels of stress, burnout and wellbeing challenges. So, while we celebrate our veterinarians on this International Day of Veterinary Medicine, we also want to acknowledge their need for our continued support.
“Vets play an essential role in protecting and advancing human, public, and environmental health at the local, national, regional, and international levels. However, the nature of One Health means they cannot work alone.” 
In a survey of veterinarians, when asked about their wellbeing only 56% described themselves as flourishing, 34.6% as getting by, and 9.4% said they are suffering. 
Our ‘Big Read’ highlights the impact veterinarians have in helping us to tackle global health challenges. However, veterinarians improve our world in many more ways. The infographic below summarises three of them:
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HealthforAnimals, 168 Avenue de Tervueren, 1150 Brussels, Belgium, Box 8, 5th floor

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HealthforAnimals · 168 Avenue de Tervueren · Brussels 1150 · Belgium