The World Veterinary Association (WVA) created World Veterinary Day in 2000 as an annual celebration of the veterinary profession which falls on every last Saturday of April month. The WVA is a worldwide non-profit organization originally established in 1863 in Hamburg, Germany that works in the best, long-term interest of veterinarians, clients, co-operative partners such as the FAO ( Food & Agricultural Organisation), WHO ( World Health Organisation) and OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) and the world society. It is committed to unifying the veterinary profession worldwide and has members in about 100 countries. Livestock and human health are interlinked and disease prevention is one of the greatest challenges faced by veterinary as well as medical profession.  Diverse infectious animal diseases have been targeted by veterinarians to decrease the morbidity and mortality in livestock. The veterinary profession, through effective and efficient veterinary services, plays crucial role in prevention of animal diseases and protection of animal health. Numerous zoonotic diseases are on focus for veterinarians to protect the human health also. Strategies to prevent such diseases for protection of livestock and human health are need of the day. Veterinarians protect the health and welfare of animals, and thus also protect the health of humans. Early detection of zoonosis can prevent their transmission to humans or introduction of pathogens into the food chain. Therefore, veterinarians should be well trained to preserve animal health and welfare, as well as to tackle public health issues. Provided that the Veterinary profession and science are constantly evolving, continuing Education is essential for veterinarians to keep their knowledge updated with the latest developments, skills, and new technologies required to enable them to efficiently control health risks at their animal source. Therefore, this year, the WVD’s theme focuses on how veterinarians continue their education efforts to increase their expertise on One Health topics, such as zoonotic diseases, food safety or antimicrobial resistance, and how they collaborate with the human health sector to tackle these issues.

It has long been known that 60% of known human infectious diseases have their source in animals (whether domestic or wild), as do 75% of emerging human diseases and 80% of the pathogens that could potentially be used in bioterrorism. We also know that human populations need a regular diet of protein from milk, eggs or meat, and that a deficiency can also be a public health problem. Some estimates suggest that world production of food animals is reduced by more than 20% due to disease, which means that even animal diseases not transmissible to humans may lead to serious public health problems due to the shortages and deficiencies that can follow. The only way to prevent all these new hazards is to adapt the existing systems of health governance at world, regional and national levels in a harmonised and coordinated manner.

One Health has been defined as "the collaborative effort of multiple disciplines - working locally, nationally, and globally - to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment”. The synergism achieved will advance health care for the 21st century and beyond by accelerating biomedical research discoveries, enhancing public health efficacy, expeditiously expanding the scientific knowledge base, and improving medical education and clinical care. When properly implemented, it will help protect and save untold millions of lives in our present and future generations.

Many emerging health issues are linked to increasing contact between humans and animals, intensification and integration of food production, and the expansion of international travel. As the number of new infectious diseases emerged in the 20th century, scientists began to recognize the challenges societies face regarding these threats that largely come from animals. It is estimated that five new emerging infectious human diseases appear each year, of which three are zoonotic. The recent Ebola epidemic as well as the too numerous human deaths caused each year by rabies, dreadfully remind us of the strong links existing between the health of people, animals and environment and consequently the need for multi-sectoral approaches illustrated through the ‘One Health’ concept. Of the 1,415 microbes that are known to infect humans, 61 percent come from animals. For example, rodents transmit plague and typhus to humans, and domestic livestock are the original source of crowd diseases such as measles, mumps, and pertussis. One important exception is Mycobacteria tuberculosis. Genetic evidence suggests that Mycobacteria tuberculosis originated in human populations and spread to animals. Chimpanzees were a reservoir host for the human immunodeficiency virus. Global trade of wildlife exacerbates the problem of disease emergence. The avian influenza (HPAI H5N1) epidemic that began in Hong Kong in 1997 forced the global community to recognize that animal health and human health are linked. The 1997 outbreak affected 18 people, killed 6, and provoked the culling of 1.5 million birds. The HPAI H5N1 virus resurfaced in isolated outbreaks between 1998–2003, but a widespread outbreak occurred in mid-2003 in South Korea. Delays in international reporting and weak response measures contributed to the spread of the virus across Southeast Asia. In recognition of the global threat that avian influenza (HPAI H5N1) and other emerging zoonotic diseases posed, the FAO, WHO and OIE developed a strategic framework, a tripartite agreement, to work more closely together to address the animal-human-ecosystem interface.

Urbanization, globalization, climate shift, and terrorism have brought the need for a more diverse public health workforce to the forefront of public planning. Changes in land use, creation and operation of large terrestrial and marine food production units, and microbial and chemical pollution of land and water sources have created new threats to the health of both animals and humans. For example, deforestation for agriculture can lead to the emergence of zoonotic diseases.

One Health is a unifying concept to bring together human health care practitioners, veterinarians, and public and environmental health professionals. By strengthening epidemiologic and laboratory investigations that assess the role of environmental influences, this partnership can help to develop and apply sustainable and effective community health interventions. The importance of One Health is promoted by scientists in many countries and supported by prominent organizations including the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization, World Organization for Animal Health and many other organisation worldwide.

In A & N Islands, the livestock and poultry are free from most of the dreaded diseases which are prevalent in the mainland. However, to protect and prevent our precious germpalsm it is important to do routine disease surveillance and vaccination against the prevalent diseases.  In the recent year, the Island has recorded the outbreak of FMD in 2005, however, due to effective vaccination programme the disease has now brought to under control. Similarly, the poultry diseases like Ranikhet disease, IBD, etc have been kept under control with effective vaccination. Apart from the livestock diseases we should be vigilant about the incidence and prevalence of some of the zoonotic diseases like leptospirosis, brucellosis, TB which may pose a serious threat to the livestock and human population.

Veterinarians have a significant role in human health and animal health. The future will most likely bring more collaborations of veterinarians from all fields with multiple professions such as public health, human medicine, bio-engineering, animal science, environmental science, and wildlife. On World Veterinary Day - 2016 veterinarians will celebrate their profession and with continuing to educate themselves will strive to become wiser and stronger to fight disease and foster animal and therefore human health. 

 By Dr. Jaisunder (M.V.Sc, Ph.D), Principal Scientist, ICAR-CIARI, Port Blair (The author is a registered member of the Andaman and Nicobar Union Territory Veterinary Council (ANUTVC)