Wednesday, 24 April 2024 14:00

Vets - part of an essential workforce

Written by  Staff Reporters
NZVA chief executive Kevin Bryant. NZVA chief executive Kevin Bryant.

World Veterinary Day falls on Saturday 27 April.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) is celebrating the country’s veterinarians and the important role they play across the globe in keeping both animals and humans safe. This year’s theme for World Veterinary Day is: Veterinarians are essential health workers.

NZVA chief executive Kevin Bryant says the veterinary workforce encompasses a wide range of roles, including government advisors.

"Veterinarians play a huge role in our daily lives, so it’s a great opportunity to let them know how much we value their work," he said. "Not only are they the people we call when our animals are unwell, but they help ensure the ongoing welfare of animals; they ensure the safety of our food chain; identify and research diseases that can be transferred from animals to humans; and help manage and prevent serious outbreaks."

The essential role veterinarians play in the communities they live and work is also evident in the long list of achievements by Aotearoa’s veterinarians and the wider profession. Veterinarians have recently been recognised across a variety of fields, such as receiving New Zealand Royal Honours, winning Young Farmer of the Year, being presented with university medals, winning national awards, and much more. It was also recently announced the subject of Veterinary Science at Massey University had risen in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Subject Rankings to 21st globally and first in Australasia.

The World Veterinary Association said that not only does veterinary science contribute to animal health and wellbeing, but also to the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of humans. All New Zealand veterinarians have had training in identifying, treating, and managing zoonoses (diseases that can transfer from animals to humans) and their relationship to public health. This important work was demonstrated during the Cyclone Gabrielle response when the veterinary profession worked alongside General Practitioners to manage the impact of leptospirosis. They also ensured essential supplies and services were provided to isolated farms; treated animals on site; and safely accommodated lost pets in clinics.

A global shortage of veterinarians has impacted New Zealand’s veterinary workforce in recent years, which has meant clinics have had to implement some changes. Bryant says the public can support veterinary teams by showing respect to vet staff; remaining patient if they have to wait slightly longer than usual for their animal to be seen; and to keep veterinary emergency services for emergencies only.

"Veterinarians are hard-working, dedicated professionals who provide an essential service and want the best for your animals," he said. "There is still a vet shortage in New Zealand that we are navigating. To help overcome these challenges, the NZVA is focused on supporting long-term investment in people and building capacity within teams."

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