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Profession must shape its own future, says BVA President

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BOTH animal and human health issues – from brucellosis to Ebola – were among matters discussed by the BVA President, John Blackwell, in a speech in Northern Ireland last week. Speaking at the BVA's annual Northern Ireland dinner in Stormont, Mr Blackwell also urged the veterinary profession to actively shape its own future.

Regarding Ebola, Mr Blackwell remarked that he had not expected in his first few weeks as BVA President to be giving media interviews about the potential risks posed by dogs in the transmission of Ebola virus. However, the ongoing outbreak illustrated that disease control was multifaceted, and that vets had to be able to react to changing situations and ‘rise to the occasion’.

The Northern Ireland dinner is one of four that the BVA holds in each region of the UK each the year. The aim is to bring issues of importance to the veterinary profession to the attention of policymakers, the agriculture industry and others with an interest in animal health and welfare.

Noting that the theme for his year as BVA President was ‘Driving change – shaping the future’, Mr Blackwell argued that, as well as being able to react to change, the veterinary profession also needed to be able to drive it: ‘If we are to continue as the guardians of animal health and welfare then together we must actively shape the future of the profession.’

Vets had a vital role in combating diseases that had devastating impacts on animal health and welfare, as well as grave economic and social consequences. Bovine TB was at the top of the list but, Mr Blackwell pointed out, tackling it was neither easy nor straightforward. While welcoming the ‘unique and innovative contribution’ that the ‘test, vaccinate, remove’ badger intervention project in Northern Ireland was making to TB …

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