Growing number of Emirati vets poised to transform animal care in UAE

Abu Dhabi: The people of the United Arab Emirates have always had a close relationship with the animals of the land; now, a number of Emiratis are poised to transform animal care, animal production and food safety as they increasingly graduate from the UAE’s premier university veterinary program.

In fact, the majority of graduates from UAE’s Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine program so far are Emirati women, said Dr. Bhanu Chowdhary, Dean of the College of Food and Agriculture. of the University. Gulf News.

“Historically, the Emirati people have cherished and nurtured their connection with various animal species, especially horses, falcons, camels, sheep and goats. This inherent wildlife knowledge, however, has yet to be translated into commercial, medical and entrepreneurial know-how. But as I see the passion of our students, I am confident that we will soon see very skilled veterinary surgeons emerging from the United Arab Emirates, and they might as well be Emirati women,” Dr Chowdhary said.

“One Health” approach

He was speaking on the sidelines of the 37th Congress of the World Veterinary Association, a three-day meeting in the capital which sees the participation of veterinary experts and officials from around the world. One of the main themes of the conference is the complex and indissoluble link between animal, human and environmental health, called the “One Health” approach.

The UAE University veterinary program is the only university degree for aspiring veterinarians. Since its launch in 2014, it has seen 56 graduates, with 28 students enrolled in the current batch. The program is also now open to expatriate students.

Need vets

“The UAE has made major progress over the past decade in animal welfare, research and production, and all of this is very essential, as the COVID pandemic has shown us. -19. A healthy animal population not only protects public health but also contributes to food security. With its current focus on ensuring food security, there is a need to further increase animal production in the UAE. The country still needs many more vets to enable this, and we hope to close that gap,” Dr Chowdhary said.

Zoonotic diseases

In addition to contributing to the UAE’s food production, qualified veterinarians will be able to study the links between animal and human diseases in the region.

“The pandemic has created widespread awareness that animal diseases can affect humans, and vice versa. But there is still very little knowledge about these zoonotic diseases, especially those that may occur in the region. Experts are finally starting to discuss One Health. But we need to approach this study in an organized way,” Dr. Chowdhary said.

“I hope that the growing number of veterinary graduates can contribute to the development of a center for zoonotic diseases in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as a veterinary teaching hospital in the UAE,” said he added.

Safeguard public health

There are currently 1,200 licensed veterinarians in the United Arab Emirates. Saif Al Shara, deputy undersecretary at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, said efforts are underway to increase the number of veterinary professionals and facilities.

“Livestock is part of the UAE’s cultural heritage and is a key part of the economy, healthcare and food security. With the growth of livestock across the country and the increase in overall cross-border livestock trade has come a similar surge of interest in veterinary medicine. This knowledge is the main element for safeguarding and maintaining animal wealth, and for stemming and controlling the spread of infectious animal diseases and epidemics, including diseases that can infect both humans and animals, an issue that has prominence due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” added Al Shara.

“We are aware that the next phase requires a deeper understanding of this profession and a wider recognition of the crucial role that its workers play. This should align with the mainstreaming of the One Health approach, especially with climate change, food security and zoonotic challenges currently facing the livestock sector nationally and globally,” he said. he declares.

The Congress continues in the capital until Thursday, with more than 80 experts discussing the trends and challenges facing the industry.

Benjamin M. Yerger