By Juliet Nyang’ai
Celebrating World Veterinary Day
World Veterinary Day is a day created by the World Veterinary Association in the year 2000 as an annual celebration of the veterinary profession. The same falls on the last Saturday of April.
Essence of Veterinary Day
The objective of celebrating World Veterinary Day is to promote the veterinary profession and work on improvement of the animal and human welfare, the environment, food safety, and practices of animal transport and quarantine. Every year, there is a dissimilar theme in commemoration of this great day.
World Veterinary Day 2020
The theme of World Veterinary Day, 2020 which fell on the 25th day of April is worth capturing; ‘’Environmental protection for improving animal and human health.” As we are currently in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it has not been business as usual. In Kenya just as in other countries, the official celebratory event/s was thus cancelled. The same had been scheduled to be hosted in Malindi, Kilifi County.
Veterinarians listed as Essential Services
In the world over, the pandemic has revitalized the order of business and catalyzed policy changes in political and socio-economic affairs. Quarantine has been introduced in many countries and either partial or total lock-down introduced. The said government directives and laws have adversely affected many professions and services thus paving way for the close down of many businesses with just the exception of what is termed as essential services.
As per the existent laws and in specific the Labor Relations Act, 2007 essential services have been defined to mean services the interruption of which would probably endanger the life of a person or health of the population or any part of the population. The Public Order Act, Cap 56 Legal Notice Number No.36 of 2020 on the Coronavirus Pandemic with the exclusion of veterinary services, listed 20 essential and critical services and associated personnel exempted from the State Curfew which was effected from the 27th of March.
Irrespective of the critical role in the protection of both human and animal health, it was a cringing shame that veterinary services were even though inadvertently, initially, omitted as essential services. Veterinary services is indisputably an essential service since a disruption of the same would pave way for a rise or further spread of zoonotic diseases just like the present pandemic.
Essence of Veterinary Service in awake of COVID-19 Pandemic
Veterinary health providence cannot be undermined. There is a direct link between safeguarding animal health and welfare and human health with more than 60% of animal diseases being zoonotic (transmissible to humans). It is thus inarguable that veterinary service is an essential service. Veterinarians make an indelible impact on global health security by addressing ‘’risk at source’’ for emerging pandemic threats, antimicrobial resistance and food Zoonotic diseases like COVID-19, Ebola, Marbug, Anthrax Fever, Avian Influenza and Rift Valley Fever amongst others. Animal welfare and health system play a critical role in the security and socio-economic wellness of the human race.
There was a public uproar when a veterinarian was arrested on the 28th of March, 2020 after curfew hours when he was coming from discharging his professional duties. Irrespective of the professional stating his case and explaining that his role as a health provider, he was detained and it took intervention of higher authorities to have the matter settled amicably. The Union of Veterinary Practitioners of Kenya (UVPK) and other affiliate bodies did not shy away from voicing their discontent and petitioning the relevant authorities for recognition of veterinary services as essential services.
It was utmost relief that there was a an addendum to Legal Notice No. 36 which expressly sought to recognize all persons offering veterinary services regulated under the Veterinary Surgeons and the Veterinary Para-professionals Act, 2011 as Critical and Essential Service Providers. Dr Benson Kibore, Chairman of the Union of Veterinary Practitioners Kenya has put emphasis on advocating for a one health approach and having one health service commission, stating that recognition of veterinary service as an essential service is a stride forward in the realization of one health service commission. Dr Samuel Kahariri national Chairman of Kenya Veterinary Association reiterates the statement of his colleague and emphasizes that only progressive policy changes can make sustainable impact and alter any subversion of the essence of veterinary services and personnel.
This article highlights the essence of veterinary services and care. As we commemorate World Veterinary Day, perhaps it is time we need to rethink our attitude and mindset toward veterinarians. Let us learn to appreciate veterinarians not just on World Veterinary Day, but every day.
Happy Veterinary Day to all Veterinarians!
The above article appeared on the African Warrior Online Magazine on 26th of April, 2020
The author is an Advocate of the High Court, Principal Partner at Juliet Nyangai & Company Advocates and a nature lover. She is passionate about Animal Welfare and Conservation.
Ms J.O Nyangái can be reached on: Twitter: @nyangaij Email: email@example.com