Pyres: 2001 UK FMD Outbreak - Photo: Murdo Macleod.  Slides L-R: Smallpox, SARS Coronavirus , Foot and Mouth Disease, West Nile Virus.
9 October 2004

Contact: Stephen M. Apatow, Director of Research and Development, Humanitarian University Consortium GraduateStudies Center for Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Law.  Email:

Dear Colleagues:

I would like to announce the formation of the International Veterinary Public Health Consortium.  This platform will be hosted by Pathobiologics International, the consulting arm of Humanitarian Resource Institute and the Humanitarian University Consortium.

At this time, I would like to open this resource to members of the academic community worldwide, to provide an opportunity for participation, collaboration and presentation of topics for (1) advocacy initiatives (2) 
country by country analysis, in support of optimization of the veterinary public health infrastructure and (3) funding via communications initiatives with corporate, inter-governmental, non-governmental, United Nations organizations in approximately 195 countries.   Topics and reference materials will be posted on the International Veterinary Public Health Consortium web site: <>.

This international initiative will facilitate real time rapid response to biodefense and emerging infectious disease issues with the capacity to activate the
Pathobiologics Collaborating Center (PCC), that serves as a password protected platform for information deemed sensitive for public discussion.  The PCC concept was developed, as per the suggestion of Martin Hugh Jones, Director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems for Public Health, to facilitate academic discussions that are beyond the scope of ProMEDmail, a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases.

Discussion topics and communications can be directed to: (Note "IVPHC" in the subject line).


Future trends in veterinary public health
Weekly Epidemiological Record, No. 19, 14 May 1999

Human health is inextricably linked to animal health and production. This link between human and animal populations, and with the surrounding environment, is particularly close in developing regions where animals provide proteins (meat and milk), transportation, draught power, fuel and clothing. In both developing and industrialized countries, however, this can lead to a serious risk to public health with severe economic consequences. A number of communicable diseases (known as zoonoses) are transmitted from animals to humans. Among them several are emerging or re-emerging. Some recent examples are: the increased incidence of foodborne diseases (e.g. Salmonella enteritidis, Escherichia coli O157:H7); the emergence of newly identified zoonotic agents such as those responsible for bovine spongiform encephalopathy/new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (United Kingdom, 1986);1 the Nipah virus (Malaysia, 1999);2 “bird flu” influenza virus A(H5N1) (Hong Kong SAR, 1997).3 Other zoonotic diseases such as rabies, brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis) have been controlled or eliminated in several industrialized countries, but remain endemic in developing regions. In addition, known zoonotic agents have re-emerged after sometimes many years of absence. Outbreaks of leptospirosis, anthrax, monkeypox, Rift Valley fever, visceral leishmaniasis and arbovirus infections involving production animals, have continued to appear in many industrialized and developing countries. In addition, animal-associated opportunistic infections (e.g. Mycobacterium bovis, Toxoplasma gondii, Listeria monocytogenes) have been reported in people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, as well as in the general population.

The reasons for this upward trend are diverse and complex but some of them can be summarized as follows:

-- alteration of the environment affecting the size and distribution of certain animal species, vectors and transmitters of infectious agents affecting humans;
-- increasing human intrusion into previously unpopulated areas (e.g. tropical forests) favouring contact between people and new agents carried by infected animals;
-- inadequacy and deterioration of public health and veterinary infrastructures, particularly in developing regions;
-- misuse of antibiotics and antimicrobial drugs in humans and animals, which can hasten the evolution of resistant microbes;
-- deforestation, changes in climate and weather that may affect infectious agents and/or vectors and animal hosts;
-- continuing evolution of pathogenic microorganisms;
-- new medical tools such as xenotransplantation;
-- industrialization and intensification of the animal production sector;
-- changes in food processing, food distribution and the nutritional habits of consumers;
-- increase in international movements of people as well as in international trade of animals and animal products;
-- increased number of immunocompromised persons.

All major zoonotic diseases, emerging, re-emerging or endemic, in addition to being a direct public health problem by affecting the health and well-being of millions of people, also prevent the efficient production of food, particularly of much-needed proteins, and create obstacles to international trade in animals and animal products. They are thus an impediment to overall socioeconomic development.

Veterinary medicine has a long and distinguished history of contributing to the maintenance and promotion of public health. Health is multidimensional; thus health policy and practice should be interdisciplinary and intersectoral. Therefore, the improvement of the health and wellbeing of a population requires more than the health sector alone. The contributions of other sectors, in particular agriculture, animal health and production, the food industry, education, housing, public works and communication, are vital. Such concerted action is particularly critical in developing countries with weak infrastructures and limited resources.

As a result of this multidisciplinary concept, the principle of veterinary public health (VPH) evolved formally as part of the World Health Organization’s strategy for health. The principles of VPH are deeply rooted in the biological, physical and social sciences and are widely shared in agriculture, medicine and the environmental sciences.

Since its establishment 50 years ago WHO has provided global leadership in VPH, particularly on zoonotic and foodborne zoonotic disease prevention, surveillance and control.

The recent meeting of the study group on future trends in veterinary public health was organized jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome (Italy), the Office international des épizooties (OIE), Paris (France), the World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva (Switzerland), and the WHO/FAO collaborating centre for research and training in veterinary epidemiology and management (Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Abbruzzo e del Molise), Teramo (Italy). Twenty-eight experts from 18 developing and industrialized countries, with both veterinary and medical backgrounds, from academic, research, public and private sectors and nongovernmental organizations, contributed to the meeting, along with representatives from the 3 international organizations and from WHO, FAO and OIE collaborating centres.

The major objectives of the study group were to review the contribution of veterinary science to public health and assess the needs of Member States (particularly in developing regions) concerning the organization and management of VPH programmes and activities, and to give guidance to the international organizations concerned on how to respond better to these needs.

Major subjects addressed during the meeting were the role of international and national institutions in promoting and assisting VPH programmes; the implication for VPH of increasing trends in population growth, international travel, urbanization and other environmental changes, as well as of the increasing international trade in animals and animal products and the intensification of animal production. The participants also addressed the challenge posed to current surveillance and control programmes by emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases. Organizational requirements and management of VPH programmes were discussed as well as the implication of structural adjustment programmes and privatization of the veterinary ser-vices. The needs for basic and applied research to meet new challenges in VPH, along with staff development and utilization, were also addressed.

To meet the challenge ahead for this relatively new discipline, a new definition for VPH was suggested by the participants as: “The contribution to the complete physical, mental, and social well-being of humans through an understanding and application of veterinary medical science”.

The conclusions and recommendations of the meeting cover 4 main areas: (1) scope and function of VPH; (2) new and future trends in VPH; (3) organization and management of VPH services and programmes; and (4) staff development and utilization in VPH.


Back to the International Veterinary Public HealthConsortium
Copyright © 2004 Pathobiologics International.  All rights reserved