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In Ohio, veterinarians contribute nearly $2 billion to the economy and provide protection to Ohio’s $107 billion agricultural industry – the largest single industry in the state. Beyond caring for the family pet, veterinarians are engaged in biomedical research, conservation medicine, public health, and find themselves at the forefront of the world’s most challenging issues, from food safety and security, to detection and control of emerging infectious diseases.
According to a recent National Research Council study, “Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine,” food security and safety concerns will demand more of the veterinary profession than ever before. The report states in part, “the veterinary profession should expand its capacity to address complex global problems, such as … food security.”
“The key driving force for the future of veterinary medicine is the shift from strong independence to a world of interdependency,” said Dr. Lonnie King, dean and Ruth Stanton Chair of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State. “We now face a triple threat – to animal, public, and environmental health – because of the world’s interconnectedness. Veterinary medicine can respond to all three threats to create a healthier world.”
As the only university in the country with seven health science colleges on a single campus, Ohio State is uniquely positioned to respond to these challenges. The “One Health” movement is a collaborative effort of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally to attain optimal health for people, animals, and our environment.
“The collaborative research at Ohio State has a global reach,” said Dr. King. “One study on foot and mouth disease in Cameroon includes faculty and students from Veterinary Medicine, Public Health, Anthropology and Geography, all working together to improve life for animals and people. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that demand for animal protein will increase by 50 percent by 2020. We know that there are a billion poor livestock farmers on our planet. If we can improve the health of their animals, we can give them better lives.”
The NRC report concludes that interdisciplinary work between U.S. veterinary graduates and other disciplines will allow veterinary medicine to leverage its expertise in One Health and lead advances in food-animal husbandry and welfare, water safety and security, and the health of wildlife and ecosystems.