DG SANCO recently invited one student from each EU veterinary school to meet to discuss its ‘one health’ initiative in Brussels. George Giles was one of the students involved
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THE meeting was organised by the EU's Directorate General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO). Fifty-two veterinary students discussed the EU's ‘Humans+Animals=One Health’ initiative and the role of ‘vets in your daily life’, a key topic for the 2011 World Veterinary Year.
They agreed that vets played an important role in society, directly affecting the daily life of every citizen, and that their role continued to evolve and was now more diversified than ever.
As a student at Nottingham, I was approached by the module convenor for veterinary public health and asked if I would like to be involved with the conference.
DG SANCO is keen to promote the work that is done in Europe to ensure that our food is produced to the highest standards, both in terms of animal health and welfare and food safety. The veterinary profession has a huge role in ensuring that these standards are maintained throughout Europe, from Official Veterinarians working in abattoirs to general practitioners treating zoonotic diseases in companion animals. The role that vets play in human health is seldom thought of by the wider population.
Keenness to demonstrate the work that is already being performed by vets to the public was a key message delivered at the conference. There was general consensus that the role of veterinarians in human health needs to be promoted, and that the veterinary and medical professions should work together more closely in the future. There was, however, debate as to the best way of doing this. Some fresh and practical ideas included the potential for using social networking sites and targeting schools to focus some educational topics around animal health and welfare and food safety. A Facebook group called ‘Working together for One Health’ has now been set up⇓
The two-day conference was well organised, and offered students the opportunity to meet and to share their thoughts on veterinary education and the challenges that we will face during our working lives.
We also learned about job opportunities within the EU, with the chance to travel all over the member states working on current or future legislation, offering technical assistance or as an EU auditor/inspector. DG SANCO's Food and Veterinary Office employs 175 staff of 24 nationalities, and vets make up quite a proportion of these employees. From a UK perspective, one thought I had about this is that job prospects within the EU depend on how many languages you speak; I wonder if this is why we don't see many UK veterinarians at the top of the EU jobs list.
Summing up, Alberto Laddomada, head of DG SANCO's Animal Health Unit, said: ‘These students are valuable partners for the Commission in spreading the “One Health” initiatives. Their energy and their pride in the veterinary profession's work is contagious, like a positive virus. They are keen to spread “one health” ideas to colleagues and the European citizens.’