Veterinary services, crucial but less appreciated

TEHRAN – Iran marks the National Veterinary Day on October 6. Despite high contribution of veterinary services to the health of both animals and humans, measures done to appreciate the services are not sufficient and the sector needs more serious attention, Payam Mohebbi, head of Tehran Pet Hospital told the Tehran Times on Friday.

 National Veterinary Day history

October 6 was designated as the National Veterinary Day in 1990, which was supposed to be celebrated each year. 

After trying to dedicate a day to the veterinary, Dr. Hassan Tajbakhsh proposed a day in Mid-October, which was a blessed day in ancient Iran.

In the past, 14th day of each month was called goosh rooz (derived from the name of an angel named Gaoosh; the guardian angel of cattle and useful animals).

Although, any national day observances contribute to the achievement of different purposes like promoting awareness and action on important issues, stimulate interest in activities and programs; about this day neither sufficient attention is paid to, nor effective efforts are done to overcome the challenges in this field, Mohebbi lamented.

What are the main role of veterinary and challenges facing it?

Mohebbi explained that “Veterinarians highly contribute to health infrastructure in the country. In other words, veterinary services play a crucial role in human health as well as livestock with controlling highly contagious diseases and infections which threaten the people’s lives in case of lack of food safety.

Human have been living with animals and their world swirled together from long ago to an extent that human started using the animals to stay alive; so that there have been complications along with benefits, he said.

However, in many contexts, veterinary services could contribute to the provision of essential public health interventions with providing food security as well as the livestock and animals safety.

This is while, veterinary, most of the time if not always, have been overlooked in our country either by the people or by the officials, mostly because of the poor management and lack of a single responsible body for the veterinary system.”

Unfortunately, physicians have been the focus of attention, with veterinarians hiding behind it; despite their important role, he said, adding, “physiological needs should first be satisfied which refers to food safety and is directly provided by veterinarians, while physicians come the next.

Year by year, new technology and modern approaches replaces the old ones; so health system is not an exception and managing it using the old policies is not possible anymore.

Health in the world is an integrated system and benefits from an integrated management system which is controlled by a single body, unlike our country that health system has been torn apart and each body is tasked with a part of it.”

Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, and Department of Environment in Iran are the responsible bodies for the health system, and lay the blame on each other when facing a problem, he lamented.

It even come up with educational problems, for instance, the Ministry of Education accepts many students into the veterinary course regardless of the career capacity, he also noted.

To overcome these issues, the country’s health system must be redefined and transformations need to be done, even if it comes at the cost of merging ministries, he added.

The related bodies are supposed to prepare the healthcare roadmap of next 10 years at the time, not to think of plans implemented years ago and its outcomes, these are the challenges that might be the main obsession of healthcare system if not tackled now, Mohebbi highlighted.

A recently launched campaign went viral among people highlighting the heavy environmental impacts of conventional meat production and the concerns people have about the welfare of animals under industrial farming, how much is it reliable?

“Many years ago, the population of humans was much less than that of today because the nature was managing it, whenever the population exceeded the natural resources capacity, diseases and microbes have shown up and balanced the population.

But human has always strived to survive, to do so, had interfered with the nature and wildlife, namely, mass production of livestock, destroying forests or wild habitats for farmland, producing emissions driving the climate crisis, polluting rivers and oceans.

Today, the shift towards flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan lifestyles is undeniable, with some people cutting down on their meat consumption as a result of becoming more conscious towards the environment and animal welfare.

Reducing meat consumption may contribute to a decline in some environmental issues such as methane gas as cows and other ruminant animals emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas, when they digest grasses and plants, he explained, noting, the world needs to reduce emissions from fossil fuels and agriculture to sufficiently rein in climate change.

“However, it cannot be completely done in the world, we cannot persuade billions of people who have been feeding on meat for hundred years as well as those producing it to cut meat consumption and production.
It might be even effective in having a better world, but people and manufacturers uneasiness about less use of meat will be a barrier despite the problems that may appear as a result, including, a drop in milk consumption and consequently diseases.

Moreover, dismantling livestock industry will bring our country huge losses and many active in agricultural sector will also lose career,” he lamented.

Can we take a chance at being managed by the nature once again?

“As I mentioned before, we increased our chance of survival among other creatures, changing the animals, lands and nature over time, which might not necessarily have been the right option, but stopping it today is impossible, so the best and only way is proper and sustainable management.

Poor environmental policies are definitely the main reason behind running off resources, such as water, forests, soil and so on; which is mostly facing the world; to overcome it, we must make a fair share of resources.

Because, if we stop using technologies or medicine or any modern ways of tackling issues, then nature even cannot control it; and the prevalence of many life-threatening diseases along with huge consequences of interference with nature will blow up the world,” he also highlighted.

Animal cruelty cases are believed to be increased, is it right? How can it be stopped?

Animal cruelty cases have not been recently increased in the society, this our attention that got more attracted to such happenings which mostly comes from the increased interaction between human and animals, Mohebbi said.

He went on to add that there have always been people who were mentally ill and aggressive to animals everywhere in the world, and this is a social phenomenon and requires social solutions as well.

“But what can really stop acts of cruelty to animals is only training and educating the people, otherwise no fining, jailing or threatening can efficiently prevent such behavior.

Culture promotion and changing people’s behavior toward animals is of great importance while the role of the media is undeniable,” he suggested.

How veterinarians can promote animal protection?

Mohebbi noted that not any veterinarian is an animal supporter, but as long as they are involved in ensuring the health of people and animals, they play a part role in animal protection.

Here are two debates on animal rights and welfare, veterinarians are supposed to enforce the animal right with offering adequate care for injured or ill animals and not to abuse them, but when it comes to animal welfare all parts of the society are responsible, he explained.

On the other hand, concern for animals' welfare is also deeply embedded in duties of veterinarians toward animals; but being an animal right advocate or supporter totally depends on the personality, he concluded.