From the AVA CEO: Thinking global - AVA international engagement

We're not trying to reinvent the wheel; for any environmental organization to claim sole responsibility for any kind of victory is insane, because everybody attacks these problems as a group.
Ted Danson actor, author, producer

AVA engages with a wide range of veterinary organisations from around the world. We are members of, or
contributors to, a number of international organisations and groups that provide an opportunity for knowledge exchange on a range of topics, including animal health, animal welfare, disease surveillance and control, food safety, veterinary medicines and veterinary education.

The reasons for these relationships and the outcomes achieved also vary, and include influencing policy and building capacity in our own and other regions. Some interactions help enhance the profession here in Australia, while others provide a means to contribute our skills and expertise to benefit others.

Nurturing and maintaining these international relationships helps ensure the AVA’s credibility on a global stage as both a source of expertise and a representative of the Australian veterinary profession. All the international forums we engage in are an opportunity to enhance our knowledge of other organisations and countries, and to contribute the ‘Australian experience’ to a wider, global pool of knowledge.

Past President Ben Gardiner and I recently attended the annual meeting of the International Veterinary Officers Coalition (IVOC) in New Zealand. IVOC brings together national veterinary association presidents and CEOs from six countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK and the USA. The meeting is hosted on a rotating roster and is generally attached to the association’s national conference so delegates can attend both events.

Some or all of the AVA’s five strategic priorities – planning an effective workforce, economic sustainability, better regulation, filling the gap in government services, and antimicrobial resistance – are also priority issues for our IVOC sister associations. Also featuring on our common agendas are mental health and wellbeing, new graduate programs, providing membership value and how we promote and market the profession.

There needs to be a return on the investment we make in attending a meeting such as IVOC. Examples of the tangible outcomes that benefit our members are:

  • AVA members can attend the conference/convention of IVOC associations at the member rate
  • AVA members living in the UK or New Zealand receive a 3-month complimentary trial membership of BVA or NZVA
  • Membership of IVOC associations may be counted towards AVA life membership

We share a great deal of information at and between meetings and the relationships we build give us access to resources outside the AVA. We can also minimise wasted effort in reinventing the wheel. For example, the AVA has been able to access the workforce modelling work done by the AVMA and draw on the experiences of the BVA in offering practice subscriptions and new graduate membership packages.

IVOC has also recognised that wellbeing and mental health are serious issues for the profession and our associations jointly sponsored a program on mental health at the World Veterinary Congress in 2013. This sponsored program has helped get the mental health issue onto the global veterinary agenda and our collaboration has also helped establish a global network for those working on mental health and wellbeing issues.

International organisations the AVA is involved with include:

The World Organisation for Animal Health (the acronym OIE is for the former name Office International des Epizooties)

This intergovernmental organisation is responsible for improving animal health worldwide and is recognised as a reference organisation by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

World Veterinary Association (WVA)

Created in 1863, the WVA represents 90 national veterinary associations and through them an estimated 500,000 vets.

Commonwealth Veterinary Association (CVA)

Composed of national veterinary associations of Commonwealth countries, many members of CVA are from developing countries. The AVA contributes through the CVA to programs that build veterinary capacity and enhance animal health and welfare in our region.

Federation of Asian Veterinary Associations (FAVA)

FAVA comprises the national veterinary associations of 18 Asian nations including Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Republic of Korea. A Congress is hosted in every second year by a different member association.

Along with these activities, the AVA special interest groups engage with a number of international bodies, such as WSAVA. Our members, individually and collectively through their AVA groups, also contribute significant time and expertise to international projects in developing countries.

These global activities are an important part of our role as a national professional association and often contribute directly to our mission of driving the success of the veterinary profession and promoting veterinary science.

Graham Catt
Chief Executive Officer

This article appeared in the August 2014 issue of the Australian Veterinary Journal

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