Global Agriculture

Pawsome Vets: World Veterinary Day Celebrates Vital Health Workers

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27 April 2024, AU: Vets are on the frontlines of public health and today Australia’s largest public sector employer of vets – the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry – is proud to celebrate their achievements.

April 27 is World Veterinary Day and this year’s theme is ‘veterinarians are essential health workers.’ The day spotlights One Health approaches to disease prevention and management, recognising the interconnections between animal, human and environmental health.

Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Beth Cookson, advocates for wider recognition of the vital role vets play in public health and societal wellbeing.

“Vets don’t just heal animals – their work contributes to the health of whole communities and the environment too.”

Both here in Australia and globally, vets are our first line of defence for biodiversity and food safety.

Veterinarian Profile: Dr Michael Patching

For Dr Michael Patching, a Singapore-based Australian private veterinarian, his profession is a holistic vocation.

“The power of veterinary work is not just in treating animals but in connecting with people from all walks of life, understanding their stories, and finding common ground in our shared love for animals.”

Dr Patching is pursuing practical One Health outcomes on the ground in Southeast Asia.

He initiated the development of Vietnam’s Chilled Beef Standard and Animal Welfare Standards with the support of an Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation (ATMAC) program grant from the Department of Agricultural Fisheries and Forestry. These projects were delivered by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) with technical assistance from the department, including through the support of Australia’s Agriculture Counsellor to Vietnam, Tony Harman.

“Seeing the Standards completed with the Vietnamese Government was not just a professional milestone, but a personal one,” he said. “It reflects a commitment to improving animal welfare on a systemic level.”

He continues his engagement with Asian farms. Most recently he trained more than 60 Vietnamese abattoir workers to put new meat standards and animal welfare protocols into practice.

Dr Patching also raises awareness about animal diseases that are present in Southeast Asia such as lumpy skin disease and foot-and-mouth disease through regular media commentary. Through informal networks, he helps bridge the gap between policymaking and on-ground realities, strengthening early disease detection.

“My career has been anything but monotonous. I’ve been fortunate enough to help develop international markets for Australian livestock, contribute to greater understanding of animal welfare, and launch my own consultancy firm.”

The veterinary profession boasts diverse career opportunities, and the department offers pathways to aspiring vets to join its ranks through the Graduate Development Program and other initiatives.

“I encourage those aspiring to a career in animal health to explore all the potential pathways of our wonderful profession,” said Dr Cookson.

“On World Veterinary Day I want to acknowledge and express my gratitude to all vets for being champions of health.”

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