What is Veterinary Public Health?
Veterinary Public Health is defined by the World Health Organization as
"the sum of all contributions to the physical, mental and social well-being of humans through an understanding and application of veterinary science"
Public health is a multidisciplinary field engaging professionals in healthcare, epidemiology, administration, and many other fields to promote healthier and longer lives. Likewise, veterinarians play an integral role in public health and are employed in many public health areas.
Public health veterinarians address food safety, food and animal production, zoonotic diseases, diseases foreign to the United States, bio- and agri- security, public policy, emergency preparedness and other issues related to human health.
Before veterinary medicine was a recognized profession, veterinary practitioners played a role in public health. Even today veterinarians are using many of the same principles practiced hundreds of years ago, ensuring the animals we use for food are healthy and pets are protected from diseases such as Rabies.
Veterinary public health combines the disciplines of veterinary medicine and public health to ensure that both people and animal can live healthy happier lives. After September 11, 2001, increasing recognition has been given to the importance of veterinarians in promoting and protecting human health. Governmental and nongovernmental organizations have increased the demand for veterinary expertise in dealing with issues such as bioterrorism and food safety. Veterinarians are the first line of defense in preventing the spread of zoonotic diseases (diseases that can spread between people and other animals) such as avian influenza.
The world is changing and new diseases are emerging across the globe. Many of these new diseases can be linked to animals or changes in environmental conditions. With the ease of travel across the world, now more than ever we are becoming a global community. Because of this, it is now more important than ever to include veterinarians in promoting and protecting human health.