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Brussels, 25 September 2009

Questions and Answers on the EU Veterinary Week and the World Rabies Day celebration in Brussels

What is the EU Veterinary Week (EVW) and why was it created in 2008?

The concept of an EU Veterinary Week (EVW) – based on an initiative of the European Parliament– was developed to promote the work of EU veterinarians and to explain the importance of animal health within the context of the EU's Animal Health Strategy (AHS), and in particular its two underlying principles of the partnership and communication.

The overall aim of the EVW is to increase the public's interest in EU animal health and food safety matters . One of its main goals was to increase awareness of the AHS.

The EU Veterinary Week was organised for the first time in 2008 by the Commission and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe and aimed in addition to promote the work of EU veterinarians. The main theme of the EVW 2008 was biosecurity, which was in line with the AHS core principle "Prevention is better than cure".

In light of the positive feedback received from Member States, veterinarians, stakeholders and the general public, it was felt that it would be beneficial to have an EU Veterinary Week on a yearly basis.

What are the aims of the EVW 2009?

The second edition of the EU Veterinary Week will take place from 28 September to 4 October 2009. Overall, the aim of the EVW is to increase the public's interest in EU animal health and food safety matters. A more specific aim for the EVW 2009 will be to promote the concept of "One Health" and pass the key message that animal diseases are having an increasing impact on public health and that therefore high standards of animal health have a positive impact on human health and wellbeing.

As this theme concerns a number of other international organisations, the EU Veterinary Week is also supported this year by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

What will happen during the EVW 2009?

A conference entitled "Animals + Humans = One health" will launch the start of the EU Veterinary Week in Brussels. The conference will focus on several examples of diseases that exemplify the link between animal and human health, such as Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) and influenzas. Influenzas will be discussed further during another conference in Brussels planned for 30 October. As the start of the EU Veterinary Week coincides with World Rabies Day (28 September), rabies will also be debated and a video entitled "EU pet passports and the fight against rabies" will be released.

On Tuesday 29 September, an extraordinary Animal Health Advisory Committee will also be held in Brussels to mark the start of a public consultation on certain selected items, identified as problems of the current legislative framework and which may be addressed in a future EU Animal Health Law. The consultation documents and an interactive questionnaire will be made available online for all interested parties shortly afterwards.

In addition, events will take place in several Veterinary Faculties throughout the EU during the EU Veterinary Week. The aim of these events will be to encourage discussions between veterinary and medical students and to encourage better cooperation between both professions.

What is the Animal Health Strategy (AHS) for the European Union?

The AHS for the European Union (2007-2013) provides the framework for animal health and welfare measures and sets out strategic aims and objectives for animal health for the period 2007-2013. Given the devastating impact that serious disease outbreaks can have on farmers, society and the economy, the new strategy is based on the principle that “prevention is better than cure.” The aim is to put greater focus on precautionary measures, disease surveillance, controls and research, in order to reduce the incidence of animal disease and minimise the impact of outbreaks when they do occur.

What is World Rabies Day?

In 2006, a group of researchers and professionals formed a global Alliance for Rabies Control. They created and began inviting partners to join the World Rabies Day initiative. The inaugural World Rabies Day initiative now involves human and animal health partners, other specialised professional and student organisations, and stakeholders. The goal of this initiative is to mobilize awareness and resources in support of human rabies prevention and animal rabies control.

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