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Food and agriculture

City University veterinary college is committed to Hong Kong’s public health mission and ‘One Health’ concept

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 August, 2018, 5:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 August, 2018, 5:01am

At City University’s Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences, we wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments expressed in your editorial on August 27 (“Tie veterinary science to public health”) and assure your readership that a public health focus is very much a part of our mission.

The curriculum, carefully designed over a period of two years, in conjunction with our colleagues at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, devotes a lot more space to subjects in our four core themes: food safety, animal welfare, emerging infectious diseases and aquatic veterinary medicine. We also sensitise the students to their important future contribution to public health early on in the course roll-out, and before students enter the clinical years and commence their veterinary medicine and surgery training.

The clinical part of the curriculum focuses on all species (“all creatures great and small”), not just pet animals. Therefore, we have to teach our students how to treat small pet animals, but in equal measure also production animal species, including fish, along with food safety and security, and the other core themes. Our commitment to the “One Health” concept is such that a course in “One Health” is actually placed in the first year of studies, and is the very first lecture that our veterinary students attend.

Funding finally approved for City U veterinary medicine degree

It will also be pertinent for your readers to know that in our hiring of faculty thus far we have been true to our mission; none of them would profess to be a specialist in small animal medicine or surgery. Thus far we have newly recruited specialists in animal welfare, aquatic veterinary medicine, emerging infectious diseases and food safety, the latter being also a speciality of mine, the dean of this college.

There can be no compromise on food safety

In terms of research, our team is already getting ready with efforts to tackle the threat posed by antimicrobial resistance, a top Hong Kong government priority, and is planning on providing a clinical service to the fish, pig and poultry production sector, as well as willing to make a contribution to food safety in the city.

The threat of African swine fever to food supply in China and by necessity Hong Kong should not be underestimated, and we have world experts in our faculty ready to provide advice.

We embrace Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s sentiments in her speech regarding the ever-present and ever-changing threats from emerging or re-emerging diseases – we will prepare our young veterinary professionals to be ready to deal with this forever-changing landscape.

Prof Michael P Reichel, dean and chair professor, Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences