Dr. Umer Farooq, Prof. Dr. Hafiz A. Samad & Abdul Wahab*
University College of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur
The staff of the Greek god Aesculapius encircled by a sacred serpent, is held as a symbol of hope and triumph over illness by the veterinary profession. As students of the art of healing, veterinarians are accomplices to a process that places them in god-like roles. Whether clinging to an animal's life, describing new life forms, or attempting to make life more compatible for animals and man, veterinarians are united by a common oath that dedicates them to "the relief of animal suffering".
Given the years of training and education required to achieve the title of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), these skillful individuals often become highly committed and possess a deep sense of loyalty to their cause. To boldly challenge the uncertainties of life becomes the landmark for them. However, what society expects and how the veterinarians respond does not necessarily correspond, and this stands true not only for Pakistan but for the whole world, in general.
The vast majority of people look upon veterinarians as people who will cure their animal when it is ill, repair traumatic injuries and advise on its general well-being. Nevertheless, they are uniquely placed to be the ‘animals advocate’ and their role in animal health is fully comprehended. However, their role as a major stakeholder with an interest in animal welfare and their underlying leadership potentials are often neglected.
Role of veterinarians need to be enhanced and redefined through interaction at various levels as mentioned in an oral address by Dr. David Wilkins at the 21st Symposium of Nordic Committee for Veterinary Scientific Cooperation, Denmark, 2007. Excerpts of his address are given below which are thought provoking and worth embedding on the minds of veterinarians.
An active role in the local community is the biggest demand of a practicing veterinarian in the present era. The trust and respect that they have from the general public can be manipulated in order to make a larger contribution than they already do. Imagine a local politician/community health worker/councilor making decisions and policies regarding animals. Would they not be detrimental both to the animal and the owner/stakeholder? Now imagine a veterinarian as a councilor of a local community! Would he not be beneficial at many fronts both regarding public and animal issues? To do such work does not mean that you have to become a ‘politician’ in the sense of belonging to a political party. Working independently in such manner would be of greater value rather than through involvement in higher level of government/politics and it will enhance the role of veterinarians in a profound way. A historical example is of a UK vet- the late Don Haxby who because of his expert knowledge and vast experience had a remarkable ability to get on with people of every walk of life. Hence he made himself indispensable as a veterinary advisor to the UK Parliament. He never had to wait for politicians to come to him; rather he made sure that they knew he was always available.
Let’s have a look at the global scenario, now. In many parts of the world, veterinary advice literally means the difference between life and death not only for humans but for animals too. More than a billion of the world’s poorest people depend on animals for food, income, social status, and cultural identification, as well as companionship and security. It’s a major catastrophe for them if they loose their animals either by a disease or a natural disaster.
It is a common practice seen mostly in Asia that none of the diseases of livestock/poultry are ever reported to the governments even in the cases of outbreaks. Because of no compensation from the governments, the sick animals/birds are slaughtered and cooked as quickly as possible. All of this leads to an economic turmoil of the highest degree and increases the role of veterinarians not only in treatment/control but also to argue with the government departments when necessary.
Some disasters are man made. For example, continuously rising number of refugees in the world is a threat which is creating a massive shift of emerging and re-emerging diseases both in animals and humans. Many of these refugees bring their animals with them which represent survival of their owners.
Food, medicines and other essentials provided as a relief to these refugees is mainly for the humans. Animals are mostly kept neglected in this regard. Authorities, governments and humanitarian agencies are mostly slower in reckoning the demands of what to provide to these animals. Same was the case seen in the recent flood in Pakistan which was responsible for affecting the most densely populated livestock areas, decimating the livestock in some areas.
Now here surfaces up the redefined role of veterinarians. Veterinarians need to come forward along with the government authorities by providing them with their skillful expertise/input to devise a plan in order to combat the posing threat and making the authorities realize the true needs of animals in such times of disaster.
As a profession we need to be more aware that we can play a broader role in a larger stage. Our expertise in the field of treatment and cure of the sick animals will always be in demand. However we need to redefine our roles in order to attain a better perspective in terms of bearers of animal welfare, too. We better not lay back and relax on what we are already doing and assume that someone will ask for a veterinary advice when it is required. We have to be pro-active, make sure that everyone knows that we are there and always willing to be involved.
*Corresponding author: Abdul Wahab, DVM 7th Semester, UCV&AS, The Islamia
University of Bahawalpur. 0334 4343069, email@example.com
WITH BEST WISHES.
May the Stars carry shine upon you. May the flowers fill your heart with beauty. May hope forever wipe away your tears. And above all
Love – Care – N – Smiles
DR KHALID MAHMOOD SHOUQ (D.V.M)UAF
EDITOR IN CHIEF
THE VETERINARY NEWS & VIEWS [WEEKLY]
CELL + 92 300 6620616 SMS +92 332 6620616
THE WORLD'S POULTRY SCIENCE ASSOCIATION PAKISTAN BRANCH
TEL;+92 41 2665352 FAX;+92 41 2562852
POSTAL;HOUSE;392-A,SAMANABAD FAISLABAD PAKISTAN