Welcome to the 30th World Veterinary Congress 2011


Come on an awe-inspiring Congress Safari to South Africa in 2011.

WORLD VETERINARY CONGRESS 2011 IN CAPE TOWN, 10-14 October, promises to be the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the South African rainbow nation.

This prestigious event will welcome veterinarians, para-veterinarians, other health-care professionals and their families from Africa and around the world to South Africa’s premier tourist destination city.

The theme “CARING FOR ANIMALS: HEALTHY COMMUNITIES” lends itself to fulfilling a global need and sets the scene for a varied, stimulating, multi-session scientific and professional programme, to cater for the diverse needs of a multi-disciplined veterinary profession. With more than a century of organised veterinary science, South Africa has an important role to play in the dissemination of knowledge across the continent and the globe.

The focus will be on food production, safety and security as well as disease control in communities served by the veterinary profession. The continuing professional development needs of veterinary clinicians will also be comprehensively catered for. This will be the most extensive veterinary scientific showcase ever offered in Africa.

World Veterinary Congress 2011 will be held at the world-class Cape Town International Convention Centre, nestled at the foot of Table Mountain.

The social and accompanying-persons programme will include day trips in and around the breathtaking Cape Peninsula, flanked by the frigid Atlantic Ocean on the west and warm Indian Ocean on the east, as well as to world-renowned vineyards. Pre- and post-Congress tours guarantee a taste of the scenic splendour, cultural diversity and unrivalled wildlife heritage that South Africa can offer its visitors. All this, together with 320 days of sunshine per year will have you planning your next African adventure!

On behalf of the South African Veterinary Association, hosts of the 30th World Veterinary Congress and the Congress Organising Committee, I extend an invitation to come and experience the warmth and renowned hospitality of Nelson Mandela’s rainbow nation.


Dr Anthony Erasmus

Chairman: World Veterinary Congress 2011


The importance of animals and their care to the South African economy

South Africa is home to over 52 million people from diverse backgrounds and preferences. There is a lot of diversity in the country, and the people have a deep affection for animals, especially the ones that serve as pets in homes. The country now has 2 million cats and 7.4 million dogs, and this tally only factors in pets living in homes or shelters. In fact, South Africa has the highest pet population of any country in the African continent. In addition to those animals, there are millions of other species that play a role in the development of the local economy. Animals such as the Cape buffalo, Kudu, leopards and birds have for a long time influenced hordes of enthusiasts, getting them to visit various parks and reserves to take a close look.

It is therefore only fair that those involved take care of animals from all species across the board. Here are ways in which such actions are important in building the economy;

  1. The creation of employment

The unemployment rate in South Africa currently stands at 25%. Studies show that these figures would actually be worse if it were not for the millions of South Africans gainfully employed in pet training, grooming and general care. A look at the future shows that this part of the industry will continue to have a telling effect on the economy as more citizens open up to the idea of working with animals in homes and protected areas. The animal grooming industry has created quite a boost to the economy of many nations. Once such example is the grooming industry in Australia where mobile groomers such as Paws With Passion and salon based services have created new employment opportunities and raised the profile of animals in the home.

  1. A boost to tourism

The country receives north of 14 million tourists every year. There is a general consensus that over 90% of these individual visit national parks and game reserves at least once in the course of their stay. Animals such as the Kudu and the Cape Buffalo are a main attraction because of their rarity. Statistics show that tourism contributes to between 1 and 3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product cleared by the government of South Africa every financial year. A huge percentage of what passes of as tourism money’ comes from charges levied on both domestic and foreign visitors in parks and animal-holding areas.

  1. Management of food production avenues

Some animals are central to the food production processes of South Africa. Horses are used in a variety of ways when it comes to the transport and delivery of farm produce. Sheep and goats also provide an added perspective to the whole idea of production, storage and maintenance of food policies. Cows are handy in their provision of milk, farm manure and related products. Taking care of the health of these animals is a positive move as it guarantees food security in the long-term.

  1. Research and development

As a rapidly developing country, South Africa is continuously making determined steps in the push towards long-term sustenance. There is a sense of urgency in the way the country is pursuing advanced understanding of animal DNA and behaviour. The country studies different breeds of animals and tries to understand them in order to maximize their abilities. At the same time, one of African’s largest economies pays attention to the productive improvement of species in order to enhance sustenance and boost production levels.

The link between animal health, productivity and the economy

Whether we are talking pets such as dogs and cats or masters of environmental adaptation like horses, there is a need to pay attention to the health of animals in South Africa. Indeed, it would be safe to state that the economic future of the country is in many ways tied to the health of its animals. Veterinary workers need to keep toiling to ensure that the animals of South Africa are free from disease and stress. Threats need to be neutralized as soon as they manifest themselves and grooming needs to take precedence over lesser practices.


The economy of South Africa continues to grow from strength to strength, partly due to an unwavering dedication of vets, park attendants, groomers and homeowners. There is a need to keep animals physically active and emotionally comfortable as this fosters continued development and steady reproductive cycles. As indicated earlier, animals are central to the improvement of the economy in terms of food production, employment and research. Current populations should be nurtured to produce even better off-springs more suited to prevailing condition and more viable from an economic perspective.

The veterinarian’s role in disease control for a healthy national community

Public health is routinely affected by the interactions between people, animals and the environment. Recent lessons from the outbreaks of SARS, Avian Influenza and Monkey-Pox have highlighted the universal nature of infectious diseases and the pressing need for South Africa to integrate public and animal health surveillance, laboratory systems and epidemiology. And with the growing concerns over health security challenges posed by zoonotic diseases, bioterrorism and food and water-borne diseases, a stronger interaction between veterinary and human medicine has become more necessary than ever before. In fact, there is greater need to implement effective public health programs with more emphasis on smooth interaction of people, animals and animal products, preventing antimicrobial resistance by pathogens, reducing climate changes that affect people and animals, improving seamless interaction between the farms, wildlife and domestic livestock, and emphasizing national and global security.

Veterinarians as the Interface between Public, Animal and Environmental Health

Veterinarians are uniquely placed to play a critical role in disease control and enhanced national health. They operate at the interface between animal, human and environmental health and can easily recognize how the changes in land use, terrestrial and marine food production processes, and chemical and microbial pollution of water and land resources can threaten the health of both humans and animals. They work with farmers to design comprehensive animal health plans for preventing food contamination with pesticides, herbicides and veterinary medicinal products and minimizing the impacts of animal diseases on public health. And they provide timely counsel to farmers and producers of animal products on how to boost the safety and health of their products.

As the interface between public, animal and environmental health, veterinarians perform 3 important functions. Firstly, the vets guide farmers on proper use of medicines for every animal that falls sick. In this role, the vets ensure that farmers choose the right medicine to eradicate specific disorders and apply the medicines at the right dose. Similarly, the vets advise farmers to keep proper records of the drugs they use on their farms and on which individual animals they apply the drugs. With the help of these records, farmers can observe proper withdrawal periods and ensure that all animals sent to the slaughter have drug residues below the acceptable. Equally, the vets restrict the scope of antibiotics that farmers can use on their animals, preventing the development of antibiotic resistances.

The second role of veterinarians is concerned with animal feeds. Vets usually have immense interest in the food consumed by animals and are occupied with knowing whether the animals are feeding on incorrect or toxic materials. Usually, some toxins in the animal feeds can be passed to consumer products such as meat, milk or eggs, resulting in public health problems. For instance, heavy metals (such as mercury and lead), dioxins, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), salmonella, prions (causing bovine spongiform encephalopathy), and radionuclides are potential animal feed contaminants which can cause public health problems. Therefore, the vets usually identify and remove the sources of these contaminants and check animal products to ensure that any toxin levels meet international safety standards.

Thirdly, vets are experts in recognizing and treating animal and zoonotic diseases. Zoonoses are diseases affecting both humans and animals and are often marked with huge public health risks. If a vet suspects a zoonotic disease such as Tuberculosis (TB), he will move quickly to confirm the diagnosis and to control the outbreak of the disease. He will also take measures to ensure that the disease does not enter into the food chain through milk or meat.

Ways through Which Vets Promote Public Health Safety

  1. Food safety at the market level: The vets inspect animal food markets and examine animals for ill-health, contamination and poor welfare before being slaughtered. They also cleanse food markets thoroughly during “rest periods” to prevent spread of diseases from one farm to another and into the food chain.
  2. Food safety at slaughterhouse level: The vets identify animals that are not fit for human consumption and ensure they are not slaughtered for purposes of food production.
  3. Drug and chemical residue checks: Vets conduct additional chemical and drug checks on animals to safeguard public health. The checks look for growth promoters, antibiotics, hormones and chemicals that may legally or illegally be found in animal products. For instance, humans may suffer from muscle tremors, nervousness, rapid heart rate and other problems after eating meat containing Salbutamol or Clenbuterol chemicals, so the contaminants should be identified and removed.
  4. Assessing food production processes: Veterinarians involve in food processing by inspecting food factories and ensuring that the foods meet specific standards of safety and quality.
  5. Inspecting the handling of food in hotel and restaurant kitchens and at food service points: While most of this work is done by food hygienists and food inspectors, veterinary epidemiologists can help to track down and investigate cases of food poisoning involving animal products.


With the increases in agricultural products in South Africa, the number of agents causing food-borne diseases has been increasing, resulting in major public health risks. This calls for a new mix of professions and experts to help overcome the public health challenges. Indeed, by having veterinarians at the heart of dealing with meat and animal product hygiene, certifications and Zoonoses, South Africa can improve the overall quality and safety of food, resulting in better disease control and a healthier national community. Vets are trained in many disciplines, including bacteriology, toxicology, virology, immunology, risk assessment and public health, and are experienced in working with several animal species. Therefore, their knowledge and expertise in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention can vastly boost public health in South Africa.

The importance of veterinary work to a national economy


Globally, the demand for animal protein is rapidly rising and is expected to double by the year 2050. This is as a result of the increasing population of people in world emerging economies such as South Africa. Apart from animal food demand, the conservation of wild animals that act as tourist attractions also is a great issue of concern considering that a great deal of developing countries in Africa rely largely on the tourism sector to get foreign exchange.

By improving the quality, quantity and good health of animals, their welfare and production, we will be able to meet the current demands for animal food products and the need to have more tourists to flock into our national reserves and animal orphanages. This will consequently have a positive impact on our national economy.

As we discuss the health and welfare of animals and livestock, it is crucial to realize that veterinary medicine and vaccines are fundamental tools in facilitating these needs.

Role of veterinarians in the national economy

It is clear that veterinarians have a great role in ensuring we have a sustainable and thriving economy as a nation. Through maintaining good animal health and sustainable production patterns, the veterinarians are directly contributing to the national economy in the following ways:

  • Food security

By using animal health products, veterinarians have been able to ensure delivery of safe and affordable food to the people. This is really helping to meet the increased demand for good quality animal food products.

Advanced livestock breeding and nutrition incorporated with the use of animal health products has transformed the sector of livestock agriculture and food production. Animal mortality rates have been significantly cut down, resulting in sufficient production of animal food products. It is clear that animal health has a direct connection to food security in the world today.

  • Sustainable food production

Most developed and developing countries rely significantly on animal production for the livelihoods of their people. The farmers sell animal products which are bought by middle class consumers. Sustainability here depends on the quality of the products and availability of the market.

In this regard, the use of animal health products by veterinarians has resulted in healthy and better productivity of animal products and an improved us of natural resources to attain this. Consequently, there is sustainable development of livestock farming and availability of ready market for animal products.

The livelihoods of the farming community are greatly dependent on these animal health products, if the production is of high quality and sustainable, the agricultural economy and food demand of the nation is secured. Due to increased demand for the high quality animal food products, there is a steady improvement in sustainable procurement around the nation. It is estimated that the absence of modern veterinary services today could call for an increase of livestock by 89% to meet the current demand for animal products. This can clearly shows the significance of veterinarians in economic sustainability.

  • Tourism Sustainability

The role of veterinarians in economic growth goes beyond domestic livestock used for food products. Providing animal health care and attention to wild animals also has significance in the economy of a nation. Good health of wild animals in the national parks and reserves results in a decline in their mortality rates. These wild animals attract tourists hence bringing the nation foreign exchange. South Africa is one of the countries whose tourism sector plays an integral part in the economic growth. Millions of tourists flock in every year to view and interact with wild animals.

It is worth noting that these animals, most especially the endangered species are given regular attention by veterinarians to ensure they are in proper health constantly and are able to reproduce naturally within their ecosystems. This ensures availability of these species all round the year for tourist attraction, resulting in constant influx of foreign exchange into the country. The veterinarians also work with environmentalists to ensure existence of a balanced ecosystem where natural resources are not overused. The services of veterinarians can be clearly seen to have significance in the tourism sector, which has a direct impact on the economy of the nation.


It is evident that maintaining good health and sustainability of animals and their populations is crucial to food production and the economy in South Africa. Veterinarians have the task of upholding this economy by using animal health products to provide safe food and ensure reduce mortality rates for both livestock and wild animals in their natural reserves.