Highlights from the WSAVA World Congress 2023: New Global Guidelines, Sustainability in Veterinary Profession, and World Rabies Day Assessment

This year’s World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) World Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, was attended by almost 3,800 delegates from 103 countries, making it one of the largest and most diverse World Congresses ever. The attendance reflects the value companion animal veterinary professionals attach to learning, sharing and networking with their global colleagues, says the association.

During a packed scientific program, several WSAVA Committees previewed new Global Guidelines – including a set of ‘paradigm-shifting’ reproduction control Global Guidelines and an update to its widely-referenced vaccination guidelines. The new Global Guidelines will be published in full as soon as they have completed the peer-review process.

New to the Congress program was a stream dedicated to the sustainability of the profession. Panel discussions on topics such as ‘modern leadership’ and the ‘next generation veterinary team’, with experts, including Dr Latonia Craig, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at the American Veterinary Medicine Association; Dr Daniella dos Santos, Director of Professional Culture at IVC Evidensia and Vanda Dučić, President Elect of the International Veterinary Students Association, highlighted the need for all members of the profession to listen to each other and to support each other in developing practical solutions to the many challenges it faces.

Domestic Violence as a One Health issue was discussed at a pre-congress workshop led by the WSAVA’s One Health Committee with keynote speakers including Dr Melinda Merck, a forensic veterinarian and former Chair of the WSAVA’s Animal Wellness and Welfare Committee and Dr Paula Boyden, Chair of the Links Group in the UK, which raises awareness of the link between the abuse of animals and of people. A toolbox of resources from the workshop is now available on the WSAVA website offering education and advice for the development of global solutions to this difficult issue.

Marking World Rabies Day 2023 on September 28, speakers in a mini-symposium assessed progress with the ‘Zero by 30’ target for the elimination of canine rabies. Dr Sarah Cleaveland, Professor of Comparative Epidemiology at the University of Glasgow and member of the WSAVA One Health Committee, told delegates at the session, supported by MSD Animal Health, that the target was challenging but achievable. A white paper and call to action is being prepared by the speakers. It will be available on the WSAVA’s website later this year.

Commenting on this year’s World Congress, WSAVA President Ellen van Nierop said: “Setting standards for companion animal practice and delivering professional and personal development for the veterinary team are two of our key strategic goals and the variety of content on offer at this year’s World Congress confirmed our intent to meet these goals.

“It was a privilege to learn from so many fellow professionals, who share our commitment to drive our profession forward. We thank all those who worked so hard to make World Congress such a success – our fantastic speakers, our exhibitors and industry partners and, of course the expert volunteers from the WSAVA’s committees whose knowledge and dedication is transforming companion animal practice around the world.”

Five new members joined the WSAVA during its assembly meeting prior to World Congress, bringing its membership to 116 veterinary associations globally. They are:

  • The Albanian Veterinary Society
  • The Algerian Veterinary Space Foundation
  • Colegio Medico Veterinario de Chile
  • Pride VMC
  • The Iran Small Animal Veterinary Association
  • The World Association for Veterinary Dermatology

WSAVA World Congress 2024 will take place in Suzhou, China, from 3-5 September.

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