Nigerian Vets Mark World Veterinary Day 2020 On-Street and Online

Report by Dr Akpan Samuel and Dr Ezeme Udoakuchinyere Chimamanda

The World Veterinary Day, created in the year 2000 by The World Veterinary Association, is celebrated annually every last saturday in April by veterinarians across the world. The World Veterinary Day 2020 was marked with significant activities in Nigeria in spite of the current COVID 19 lockdown in major cities of the country. Thanks to social media apps (Twitter, Zoom, Facebook, Whatsapp etc), the event would have passed unnoticed as people were confined to the boundaries of their yards..

The activities started on Friday 24th with a live broadcast on Zoom by the president of Veterinary Council of Nigeria (VCN), CP Aishatu Abubakar Baju which centered on the veterinary response to covid 19 outbreak in Nigeria.

During the ZOOM meeting, Dr Baju emphasized on the dedication and sacrifice of veterinarians during their discharge of duty to ensuring the safety of food animals and prevention of zoonotic diseases at the human level. This is in tune with the World Health Organization declaration, that the novel COVID-19 virus is likely to be of animal origin, therefore, making the veterinary profession a significant component of the health sector. She congratulated the council on her recent successes in achieving their strategic goals such as inclusion of the veterinary professionals in the Federal Capital Territory Emergency Operating Centre (FCT EOC) on COVID-19 as approved by the Hon. Minister of the FCT, Dr. (Mrs.) RamatuTijjaniAliyu and the identification and accreditation of one of the Veterinary Laboratories at the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Vom by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as a testing and diagnostic center for COVID-19.

The VCN president however urged the Presidential Task-Force on COVID-19, as well as other state government Task-Forces to follow suit in the inclusion of the Veterinary Doctors in the Task-Force team. CP Aishatu Abubakar-Baju, further in her address announced the mobilization of 1000 veterinary volunteers in the country ready for deployment into several COVID-19 taskforce committees in the respective states, as part of Nigeria veterinarians’ corporate social responsibility and contribution to augment the efforts of the federal and state governments in fighting the pandemic.

She therefater commended the collective efforts of the council through its mandate to the realization of the inclusion of the veterinary and para veterinary professionals as Essential Service Providers, thus, allowing the free movement of livestock, livestock products and inputs (such as vaccines and medications), to ensure the free flow of veterinary services and sustain the food chain supply process amidst the lock-down and restriction of movements. She enjoined veterinarians to continually bring their services to bear on ensuring the safety of food animals, the good health of pet/companion animals, safety of the environment, as well as prevention of zoonotic diseases within the human population.

On Saturday 25th CP Aishatus Baju led other veterinarians on a courtesy visit to the Minister of Federal Capital Territory

The minister used the visit to launch a nationwide decontamination exercise of livestock/live birds markets, abbatoir and other vulnerable veterinary places. This exercise was in support of the effort of the government in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her address at the launching themed “Enviromental Protection for Improving Animal and Human Health”, the VCN president stated thus: “ This theme is not only apt, it also could not have been crafted at a better time other than now, owing to the reality of the challenge posed by the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic on our very existence and survival. As enshrined in the One World Health Protocol, and in line with the dictate and content of our professional curriculum, we are indeed a major stakeholder and a critical frontline player in ensuring this deadly viral disease is contained”.

It was a galore of sorts on Saturday, 25th April 2020, as thousands of veterinarians from all nooks and corners in Nigeria converged online to mark the World Veterinary Day. The event was hosted by the national body of the Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA), via an online Twitter handle @nigerianvets.

Kicking off at 7pm, the host @nigerianvets welcomed everyone for hooking up to the handle, and introduced the keynote presenter, Dr Adewole Adekola, a veterinarian and Commonwealth PhD scholar whose experience spans across clinical practice, meat inspection, teaching, research and public health, with core interest in infectious diseases control.

In his presentation, Dr Adekola stated that climate changes have brought about drought, increased wildlife risks, animal feed damage due to mould growth, and natural disasters such as flooding, which leads to loss of pasture and soil nutrients for crop production for the sustenance of man and animals. He stressed the need for promotion of mitigating practices such as adopting more environmental-friendly feed and water utilization measures in order to reduce agricultural carbon footprint due to animal protein production. He enjoined veterinarians to continue acting on the front line of global environmental protection efforts by helping to reduce effects of global warming on animal production, fighting antibiotic resistance through their practices, and preventing infectious diseases outbreaks.

Highlights of the converge featured interactive question and answer sessions and contributions by veterinarians cutting across the academia, public and private sector. The tweet chat ended by 9 pm.  LIVESTONEWS.

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