When war takes its toll on animal care, public health and veterinary education, rebuilding is too monumental a task for a single organization--or nation--to achieve. Stepping up to help fellow veterinarians, Dean Bennie I. Osburn and other U.S. veterinary professionals to meet with colleagues from Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan at the First International Veterinary Conference in Kuwait. The goal: to restore veterinary services and education in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Dean Osburn explains the severity of the hardships that veterinarians face in these countries. "The veterinary colleges have been decimated. There is no veterinary service for disease control. Foot and mouth disease is rampant."
Though challenges are great, conference participants are ready to engage in rebuilding efforts. Osburn says, "This conference offers an opportunity to demonstrate our collective ability to respond in a major way to some of the global issues in animal human and environmental health and to include international veterinary colleagues in need of assistance."
Attendees reviewed current conditions in the affected countries and described America's veterinary education and regulatory systems. Dean Osburn presented information about standards for veterinary school accreditation and opportunities for scientific exchange. (On behalf of the school, Osburn donated 50 instructional courseware CD's.)
The gathering resulted in proposals for short-term scientific exchange and long-term planning, says Osburn. On behalf of the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges--he now serves as president of the organization in addition to his duties as dean--Osburn will co-author a detailed needs assessment to be completed in 2005.
"We will identify facilities needs, equipment, teaching materials and training needs for these countries," Osburn explains. "We will assist our colleagues as they form educational standards and professional associations. We will develop memoranda of understanding, work plans and specific funding proposals to U.S. aid agencies and related organizations that will foster MS and PhD training in the United States as well as scientific collaborations with research programs in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan."
American veterinarians hope to sponsor several veterinarians from regulatory agencies and academic institutions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait to attend the 2005 World Veterinary Congress and other professional meetings.
Osburn has invited AAVMC member schools to join in the project and contribute to long-term goals. He expects the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, for example, to facilitate research collaborations and provide specialized training in advanced degree programs. In addition to professional development, educational exchanges at foreign veterinary hospitals and other settings may one day offer rare opportunities for U.S. veterinary students to observe foreign animal disease and work on international veterinary projects.
Kuwait's Humanitarian Operations Center and the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources hosted the conference in Kuwait City for 54 participants. Sponsors also included the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, USDA/APHIS and non-governmental organizations.
Jumping the first hurdles, Osburn says, will inspire further successes. "Our goal is to respond to this great need to improve the care of animals, protect human health and begin to rebuild the veterinary infrastructure in Afghanistan and Iraq."
For a more complete report, please visit theWeb site of the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges and read the news release from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine
The greatest need now is for financial contributions to assist with rebuilding, remodeling and equipping classrooms, teaching laboratories and clinical facilities to put them back into use. Contribution checks made out to "AAVMC" may be sent to:
Afghanistan and Iraq Veterinary Education Fund
Dr. Lawrence Heider, Executive Director
Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
1101 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 301
Washington, DC 20005
UC Davis Graduates Pitch In
Graduates of the School of Veterinary Medicine and other UC Davis degree programs shared their expertise at the International Veterinary Conference in Kuwait September 21-23. Their names, relevant degrees and meeting presentations are listed below:
· Leon S. "Sam" Barringer (DVM-1992), Pfizer Technical Services and Maj., US Army Veterinary Corps--Regulation of dairy product safety
· Linda Logan (PhD, Comparative Pathology-1987), USDA, APHIS, Veterinary Services--Overviews of Rift Valley fever, foot and mouth disease, rinderpest
· Bennie Osburn (PhD, Comparative Pathology-1965), Dean, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine--Short-term and long-term scientific exchange programs in the USA and abroad; veterinary college accreditation
· Elizabeth Sabin (DVM-1992), American Veterinary Medical Association Education and Research Division--Veterinary college accreditation in the USA and its expansion overseas
· Mo Salman (MPVM-1980, PhD, Comparative Pathology-1983), Colorado State University--Components of a national animal health program