Veterinary medicine critical to disaster preparedness, relief

RUSVM’s new research group is exploring how knowledge of animal health can contribute to global emergency preparedness

The increasing prevalence of the One Health approach in global medicine continues to impact the changing world of veterinary care.

To that end, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (RUSVM) has established a disaster research working group (DRWG) to explore how knowledge of veterinary medicine and animal health can be applied to prepare for and respond to natural disasters.

The introduction of the group has resulted in RUSVM becoming the first veterinary school to be accepted as an affiliated organization to the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine (WADEM), a multidisciplinary professional association aimed at improving global disaster health care and preparedness.

“WADEM supports organizations worldwide that promote academic research and the preparedness capabilities of local and regional disaster response,” says Gregory Ciottone, MD, FACEP, FFSEM, president of WADEM.

The number of natural disasters worldwide has more than quadrupled in the last 50 years, RUSVM says, adding that 2018 saw 315 of these events, which resulted in approximately 12,000 deaths and US$131.7 billion in global economic losses.

“It is critical veterinarians have a seat at the table in preparing for and responding to natural disasters,” says RUSVM dean, Sean Callanan, PhD, MVB, MRCVS, CertVR, DipECVP, FRCPath. “Disasters involve people, animals, and the environment we share, and RUSVM’s DRWG will improve the resiliency of these groups through a holistic One Health approach.”

To evaluate the understanding, knowledge, and capacity needed to prepare for and respond to these emergency events, the group will draw upon expertise relating to disaster-related public health and epidemiology; livestock health and safety; small animal medicine and sheltering; infectious disease; and veterinary education.

The DRWG will focus specifically on several areas, including:

  • developing and enhancing a culture of health, safety, and resilience;
  • improving hazard risk assessment and early warning systems;
  • community-driven disaster risk reduction;
  • One Health disaster preparation, response, and recovery; and
  • methods of inclusion of animal health and safety in disaster preparation.

To learn more about the DRWG, click here.

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