Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

April 18, 2005

OVC Goes Global with New Organizations

The work of faculty and students at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) will be making a difference in developing countries through two new national organizations, one of which will have its headquarters at the University of Guelph and is the first of its kind in North America.

Veterinarians Without Borders-Canada (VWB-Canada), a new nationwide humanitarian group, will make its home at Guelph after its inauguration in Victoria, B.C., in July during the annual conference of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. Modelled after Doctors Without Borders, the group will bring together Canadian veterinarians keen to help in international projects that involve human and animal health and the environment.

“A lot of veterinarians are doing international work,” said Guelph population medicine professor David Waltner-Toews, who is serving as the group's acting CEO until its first general meeting this summer. “But, nothing has been co-ordinated at the national level."

OVC faculty have long been involved in international projects, from working with urban families in small scale livestock operations to preventing the spread of disease in Uganda to promoting more effective wildlife management in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries.

VWB-Canada’s founding members include private practitioners, academics from Canada's veterinary colleges, governments and non-governmental agencies.

It will be overseen by an advisory board consisting of U of G president Alastair Summerlee; Guelph population medicine professor John McDermott, who is also director-general of research at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi; and former OVC dean Ole Nielsen. French-speaking colleagues, including OVC grads, are helping to make the organization fully bilingual.

VWB-Canada members will also serve as mentors to Global Vets, a program for second-year vet students, whose mandate is the promotion of animal health and welfare, agricultural development and ecosystem health in developing countries.

The group, which has recently linked existing campus branches to form a national network, provides students with international working and learning opportunities. Beginning in May, 11 students from OVC will begin work on projects in wildlife conservation, companion-animal medicine, farm-animal medicine and productivity research, zoonotic diseases and public education in Peru, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

“We’re part of the future generation of health-care providers, so we’re looking for opportunities in developing countries to become exposed to the animal health and socio-economic issues faced by these communities,” said participant Mira Ziolo. “Our experiences from these travels will provide us with insights into these issues so that one day we will be able to work with these communities to help them build toward a sustainable future. That knowledge and understanding will also help us become better vets working in Canada.”

Barry Gunn
Communications Officer, Ontario Veterinary College
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 54414

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rebecca Kendall, Ext. 56982.

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