China Focuses on Raising Veterinary Standards

CHINA, US & UK - US and UK colleges are helping to boost Chinese veterinary standards.
calendar icon 16 December 2010
clock icon 4 minute read

Several top veterinary schools and research institutes in the United States and the United Kingdom have joined Chinese government departments to form an organisation to advance veterinary education and practices in the country, according to an official source in China.

The China Veterinary Collaboration (CVC) will work closely with local organisations, academia and industry leaders to bring the country's veterinary standards up to world levels.

Industry experts say China's veterinary education system and accreditation standards are still underdeveloped and are unable to meet modern public health needs.

Jia Youling, president of China Veterinary Medical Association and dean of Veterinary College at Inner Mongolian Agriculture University, said China produces half of the world's pigs, 30 per cent of the world's poultry and 40 per cent of the world's eggs.

The association, which was established last year in Beijing, is the first national association for the profession in China.

Dr Jia said that due to recent public health disasters such as SARS, avian flu, foot and mouth disease, Streptococcus suis and H1N1 influenza, the government began invested heavily in research and development and is paying closer attention to the development of veterinary science.

Key members of the CVC include Iowa State University, Kansas State University, University of California, Davis, University of Minnesota, University of Nottingham, The Royal Veterinary College in UK and Pfizer Animal Health.

Juan Ramon Alaix, president of Pfizer Animal Health, said its headquarters in Shanghai is working with local companies to meet specific needs in China.

"We share the same objectives with the Chinese government – to make sure that food produced in China is safe.

"We are also in collaboration with local companies to fund R&D activities."

Michelle Haven, vice-president of business development, global alliances and strategic planning at Pfizer Animal Health, said China has a growing animal population with correspondingly large and increasing veterinary needs.

In September, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture approved Pfizer's pork production technology called Improvac to be used by veterinarians on pigs throughout China.

"China is a big producer and consumer of pork," Mr Alaix said. "This technology effectively eliminates boar smell.

"It is also an environmentally friendly way to rear male pigs without compromising on meat quality."

Dr Jia said China has begun to adopt measures to bring its veterinary practice more in line with that of more advanced countries.

However, unlike in the US and Europe, most of the industry in China is carried out by family farming, making it difficult to implement and enforce standards in quarantine, slaughter, transportation and others.

Also, the veterinary education system in China lags international standards in all aspects, said Dr Jia.

And due to low wages, there are few veterinary professionals in rural areas. Many who do the job in such areas do not have formal qualifications or education, he added.

In a move toward standardisation, China this year launched a nationwide qualification exam to ensure a higher quality of veterinarians.

There are also plans to increase undergraduate studies in veterinary science from four to five years, and to enhance the practical aspects of education such as laboratory research and clinical practice. Graduates will be required to sit for a veterinary licensing examination.

"There is also a need to step up publicity to increase public awareness of the veterinary profession and to support the industry," Dr Jia concluded.

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