Vets play key role in society, according to AVMA and FVE
Veterinarians play a key role in providing for animal welfare and setting the standard for responsible use of antimicrobials, according to joint statements released by AVMA and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE).
AVMA and FVE teamed up to release statements on animal welfare, judicious use of antimicrobials and veterinary education. The joint statements, released at the end of August, provide guidelines for the roles and responsibilities of veterinarians in today’s society.
The first statement on animal welfare establishes veterinarians as "knowledgeable and accountable professionals" who have an opportunity and an obligation to protect the welfare of animals. The statement recognizes that veterinarians have unique attributes that enable them to be effective partners for both animals and society.
The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recognize that sentient animals are capable of pain and suffering, deserving consideration and respect.
The FVE and AVMA recognize that veterinarians — as knowledgeable and accountable professionals — have an opportunity and an obligation to help animal owners, caretakers, handlers, and policy makers protect and improve animals’ welfare.
Consistent with the internationally accepted five freedoms, animals must be provided water, food, proper handling, health care, and environments appropriate to their species and use, and should be cared for in ways that prevent and minimize fear, pain, distress, and suffering.
Establishing and implementing good animal care is a balancing act involving animal needs, human needs, societal expectations, and environmental concerns. Actions taken to improve animal welfare should be informed by veterinary, ethological, ecological, and ethical considerations.
In serving animals and society, veterinarians have unique attributes that make them valuable partners and effective advocates. Among these are:
• Strong science-based knowledge about animal health and husbandry, and proficiency in the technical and practical application of that information;
• Empathy, which encourages veterinarians to ensure uses of animals are necessary and appropriate;
• Direct practitioner access to animals, the environments in which they are housed, and the people who own and care for them;
• Regular interactions with other individuals indirectly responsible for the welfare of animals (e.g., other scientists, policy makers, advocates in the industry and humane communities, the public); and
• Long-standing credibility earned through public service and adherence to high ethical and professional standards.
All veterinarians have an opportunity to provide education and knowledge that can promote welfare-friendly animal care practices. Veterinarians must not only work to implement existing standards, but must also contribute to ensuring continual improvement of those standards.
Veterinarians in different types of practices may have unique roles:
• Private clinical practitioners provide direct-to-owner/caretaker assistance in assessing regularly the welfare of animals and in ensuring good animal welfare.
• Consulting veterinarians may complete in-depth evaluations of facilities and recommend standard operating procedures and best practices.
• Veterinary educators school future generations of veterinarians and paraprofessionals in the scientific and ethical bases behind the development and adoption of appropriate animal care practices.
• Veterinary researchers promote good animal welfare within existing animal care systems and propose alternatives that may better accommodate animal needs. Veterinarians employed in governmental and nongovernmental organizations develop, certify, and enforce animal care standards.
• Veterinarians with species-specific animal welfare expertise can serve as highly qualified, independent evaluators for assurance schemes.
Veterinarians are, and must continually strive to be, the leading advocates for the good welfare of animals in a continually evolving society.
The development of antimicrobial substances has enormously contributed to improving the health and welfare of people and animals throughout the world and the continuous availability of a range of effective antimicrobials therefore is a fundamental « One Health » issue. Preservation of antimicrobial efficacy through a responsible and judicious use of antimicrobials is in the best interests of both animal health and human health.
The veterinary profession has a great deal to offer in relation to the prevention of antimicrobial resistance, with its knowledge and understanding of Good Veterinary Practice and the responsible use of medicines. However, for an optimal result, approaches to preserve antimicrobial efficacy must be well coordinated and encompass everyone involved in the use of antimicrobials, including physicians, veterinarians, pharmacists, individual patients, animal caretakers, and producers.
There is a need to preserve both efficacy and availability of antimicrobials for therapeutic use by veterinarians. Therapeutic uses of antimicrobials are essential for treatment, control, and prevention of infectious diseases to maintain animal health and welfare as well as ensure human food safety. Veterinarians must be involved in efforts to preserve antimicrobial therapies in animals. First, the use of other efficacious scientifically proven therapeutic options should be considered prior to initiating antimicrobial therapy. This includes preventive strategies, such as appropriate husbandry and hygiene, routine health monitoring, and immunization.
Once a determination is made that use of antimicrobials is indicated, the veterinarian must optimize therapeutic efficacy and minimize resistance to antimicrobials to protect public and animal health by:
• utilizing diagnostic results including culture and sensitivity to aid in the selection of antimicrobials;
• ensuring appropriate duration of treatment to achieve the desired clinical response and prevent recurrence;
• restricting therapeutic antimicrobial treatment to ill or at risk animals, treating the fewest animals indicated.
Continued availability of all classes of safe, effective antimicrobials for veterinary medicine is a critical component for a safe food supply and optimal animal health and welfare. To that end:
• Regulatory proposals and actions should consider the overall microbial ecology and be specific, transparent, and based on scientific risk analysis.
• Antimicrobial resistance risk analyses should evaluate the risks and benefits to animal health and welfare in addition to the risks and benefits to human health.
• In the context of One Health, physicians and veterinarians must work collaboratively to ensure responsible and judicious use of antimicrobials.
• Every time a physician or veterinarian initiates antimicrobial therapy is an opportunity to educate the patient/client on proper administration and compliance with treatment regimes.
• Veterinarians must support research for the development of methods and tools to prevent, diagnose and treat microbial infections and reduce our dependence on antimicrobials.
At the time of graduation, veterinarians must have the basic scientific knowledge, skills, and values to be a full member of the veterinary profession, and to perform —in an independent and responsible way — appropriate entry-level tasks and duties conferred upon and taken on by the veterinary profession, in the interest of animal health, animal welfare, public health, and societal needs.
Veterinary education must ensure new graduates have sufficient day-one competency in the following areas:
1. Adequate knowledge of the sciences on which the activities of the veterinarian are based.
2. Adequate knowledge of the causes, nature, course, effects, diagnosis and treatment of the diseases of animals, whether considered individually or in groups, including knowledge of the diseases which may be transmitted to humans.
3. Adequate clinical experience to diagnose, treat, and prevent mental or physical disease, injury, pain, or defect in an animal, or to determine the health and welfare status of an animal or group of animals, particularly its physiological status, including the prescription of veterinary medicines.
4. Adequate knowledge of the structure and functions of healthy animals, of their husbandry, reproduction and hygiene in general, as well as their feeding, including the technology involved in the manufacture and preservation of foods corresponding to their needs.
5. Adequate knowledge of the behavior and protection of animals.
6. Adequate knowledge of preventive medicine.
7. Adequate knowledge of food hygiene and technology involved in the production, manufacture, and distribution of animal products intended for human consumption.
8. Adequate knowledge of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to the subjects listed above
9. Ability to communicate with clients, colleagues, and staff effectively.
10. Ability to work within the diverse disciplines that comprise veterinary medicine in accordance with appropriate professional codes of ethics and conduct
11. Adequate knowledge of veterinary business operations, resource management, personnel management, and finances.
12. Adequate knowledge of the role of research in furthering the practice of veterinary medicine and the need for life-long learning to ensure currency of knowledge and skills.
The accreditation of veterinary education is essential to ensure educational programs meet high standards and strive for continuous quality improvement. Accreditation is best accomplished through a process of peer review that is independent, objective, and impartial. The standards of accreditation must be dynamic and consistently applied to ensure they meet the changing needs of society.