Stakeholders in the veterinary profession, on Saturday called for the promotion of diversity, equity, and all-inclusiveness in the day-to-day veterinary practice.
This was the position of the keynote speaker and other experts in the veterinary profession present at the 2023 World Veterinary Day Celebration organised by the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association, Oyo State Branch.
The event which was held at the University of Ibadan and was themed “Promoting Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness in the Veterinary Profession.”
The Keynote speaker, Dr (Prince) Bola Oyedepo, Former Director of Livestock Service, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Oyo state said that diversity, equity, and inclusiveness are major factors that must not be separated in the veterinary profession, adding that they are vital for the growth and development of individual and the collective development of veterinary medicine.
Speaking on the importance of diversity, he explained that the characteristics could be everything that makes veterinary professionals unique in skills such as cognitive skills, personality traits among other things.
He recognised that the veterinary practice is being challenged every day by unemployment, lack of patronage and need for forward integration among others.
His words: “Many veterinarians have over the years proceeded to acquire additional qualifications in new professional areas; that is professions such as Business Administration, Law, Pharmacy, Accountancy, Human Medicine etc
“Some veterinarians especially those in academics have also acquired Masters Degrees and even Ph.D. in faculties other than Veterinary Medicine such as Agriculture, Wildlife among others. It can also be noticed in veterinary business as some veterinarians who are initially engaged in pure clinical and ambulatory services have added sales of veterinary pharmaceutical products, sales of animal production inputs and livestock farming to their businesses.”
Speaking further on the equity component, Dr Oyedepo defined equity as being valued, respected, supported, and empowered in one’s professional, educational, and personal endeavour irrespective of one’s ethnic group.
He said: “The veterinarians undergo a great deal of preparation in the biomedical sciences as the physicians. Both veterinary and medical students study subjects such as anatomy, histology, physiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, microbiology, parasitology, pathology, medicine, surgery, reproduction, public health and other subjects.
“This shows that right from the training period veterinary profession recognises equity in its course contents and all the veterinary departments within the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine are treated equally as integral parts of what will produce well qualified veterinary graduates”
He also encouraged inclusiveness in the veterinary practice, which entails providing all access to opportunities and resources for people who must have otherwise been excluded or marginalised such as those having physical or intellectual disabilities (challenges) or belonging to other minority groups.
He added that it is common knowledge that individuals and professionals now collaborate to achieve better results in the current ways of doing things.
He added: “The veterinary doctors and the animal health technologists who have for long been seeing each other as incompatible should have a rethink and accept the fact that in a team work somebody must be the head does not mean that other members of the team are not important, after all they too have roles to play.
“There is reliable information that the Veterinary Council of Nigeria is planning to accommodate representatives of animal health technologists in the membership of the council.”
While also speaking, the chairman of the event, Dr Tayo Alayande encouraged that veterinarians should not limit themselves to what they learn in the profession alone, as they should go into other fields, diversify and gain required knowledge for better performance.
The Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Oyo state, Honourable Adeniyi Adebisi, who was represented by Dr Ibikunle Akanbi at the event also spoke about how the state government is committed towards the growth of the veterinary profession in Oyo state.
He stressed that the state has created a proper regulatory environment to ensure the success of private veterinary practitioners through regulation of Private Veterinary Practicing Premises.
He also added that to improve animal production and safeguard public health, the state has also made available free mass vaccination against Rabies, PPR, CBPP, Newcastle Disease and ensured food safety through inspection of meat at the abattoir.
He promised that issues raised regarding inadequate number of veterinarians and animal health technologists in Oyo state civil service will be reported to the Honourable Commissioner for proper consideration.
Earlier in his address, the Chief Host of the occasion, who is also the Chairman of Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association, Oyo state branch, Dr Moses Arokoyo also emphasised that the discussion is brought out to promote the needed diversity, equity, and all-inclusiveness in the veterinary profession.
Other activities performed at the event include the presentation of the Award of Excellence to the First Female Professor of Veterinary Medicine in Sub-saharan Africa, Professor Helen Oyebukola Nottidge, who was the Mother of the Day.
Other dignitaries present at the event were the Dean, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Ibadan, Prof. Olufunke Ola-Davies, Members of the National Executive Committee of Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association, Chairman, Nigerian Association of Animal Health and Husbandry Technologists, Mr Yinka Oluwatoyin, President, Association of Veterinary Medical Students, University of Ibadan, Mr. Oluwatobi Fasiku, among others.