The Essential Role of Veterinarians in Protecting Animal, Human, Public & Environmental Health - A Global Public: Joint American Veterinary Medical Association, Federation of Veterinarians of Europe, Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Statement

Oct 27, 2014

The public has a strong appreciation for the important role of veterinarians in the United States, Europe and Canada who are engaged in clinical practice caring for the health and well-being of companion and farm/ranch animals. The myriad other roles veterinarians play in protecting and advancing human, public, and  environmental  health are less recognized by the public, yet are essential to the continued well-being of people and animals at the local, national, regional, and international levels.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) represents more than 85,000 individual veterinarians across the U.S.A; the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) represents 46 national veterinary organizations across 38 European countries; and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) represents over 13,000 individual veterinarians across Canada. The AVMA, FVE, and CVMA collaborate on issues of importance to its members, working cooperatively to promote animal and human health, support veterinarians in delivering their professional responsibilities at the highest level, and advance the veterinary medical profession.

The AVMA, FVE, and CVMA recognize that the clinical veterinary practitioner is often at the forefront of protecting human health through the diagnosis and treatment of animal disease. This is not only true for veterinarians working in communities in which the economic well-being of the human population is dependent on animals for transportation, labor, or food, but also in communities in which the emotional well-being of the human population is strongly impacted by the human-animal bond.   

The AVMA, FVE, and CVMA are committed to promoting both the more commonly recognized role veterinarians play as clinical practitioners in ensuring animal health and welfare and the less-recognized but equally essential roles veterinarians play in protecting and advancing public and environmental health. Examples of these roles include, but are not limited to:

  • Investigating animal and human disease outbreaks and developing and implementing programs to enhance epidemiologic understanding, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and eradication of such diseases.
  • Building global surveillance systems to enhance early detection of, and response to, disease threats. 
  • Ensuring the safety and nutritious value of all food of animal origin—from the farm to the fork.
  • Teaching the next generation of veterinarians, other medical professionals, and other scientists. 
  • Conducting research to advance animal, human, public, and environmental health and welfare. 
  • Evaluating the safety and efficacy of medicines, medical products, animal foods, and food additives. 
  • Building and rebuilding health infrastructures and helping communities around the world recover from manmade and natural disasters such as war, political unrest, hurricanes, and tsunamis. 
  • Protecting the environment through programs that manage animal agricultural waste, dispose of pharmaceuticals in a safe manner, and promote sustainable development. 
  • Working with captive and free-ranging wildlife to protect biodiversity and advance species conservation efforts. 

Given the breadth and depth of veterinary medicine, the AVMA, FVE, and CVMA believe the profession is an essential component of One Health. Veterinarians are integral to missions at the human-animal-environment interface. Further, the veterinary profession is a global public good as defined by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Because of these beliefs, the AVMA, FVE, and CVMA will actively promote all roles that veterinarians play through public outreach campaigns and advocacy at the national and international levels. In so doing, these three organizations are committed to working together to ensure that necessary resources are available to advance the veterinary profession on a global level. 

(Approved by the AVMA Board of Directors, 28 August, 2013; FVE Board of Directors, 21 August, 2013; and CVMA Council 20 May, 2014)