(Editor’s Note: This text has been revised and edited from a document sent to Dr. Lance Perryman, Dean, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, by Paula L Cowen, DVM, Director, Professional Development Staff, Veterinary Services, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service(APHIS), United State Department of Agriculture (USDA).)
Dr. Paula Cowen recently returned from a trip to Iraq with Dr. Mo Salman (Professor, Department of Clinical Sciences and Director of the Animal Population Health Institute at Colorado State University). Drs. Cowen and Salman have been working together on the infrastructure rebuilding efforts in Iraq for the past two years.
“His leadership and credibility were crucial to our success there. He challenged the Iraqi veterinarians to think in new ways and to make real lasting change happen,” wrote Dr. Cowen. “Without his passion and selfless desire to help his countrymen realize a better life (Dr. Salman graduated from the University of Baghdad 30 years ago), we would not have had the stunning success that our workshop had.
“The importance of this event cannot be overstated. The ability to track and eradicate diseases of significance to both the human and animal populations requires a workable plan and resources. Once these diseases are controlled, the resulting improvements in animal health will result in greater animal protein for the population helping to ensure the health and well being of the Iraqi people.”
For four days the participants set aside the giant obstacles of security, lack of funding, geographic and religious differences as issues they could not address or fix in this forum. The group focused on the things they could do and found them to be many. On the last day of the workshop, Iraq's chief veterinary officer delivered a five-year vision plan for a National Animal Health Program.
Attendees began planning an Iraqi Veterinary Scientific Conference to be held within 18 months. An organizing committee was appointed that included Drs. Cowen and Salman. The plan called for the creation of a new Iraqi Animal Health Organization (IAHO), patterned on the U.S. Animal Health Association and a group of Iraqis have begun work on this goal. The plan calls for the development of training sessions for each veterinary discipline supporting the National Animal Health Plan (NAHP). Dr. Salman provided revisions to the NAHP to help ensure its success.
Approximately 90 veterinarians were in attendance at the workshop -- including eight women veterinarians -- with representation from the central governments of Iraq and Kurdistan, veterinary schools, laboratories, and private practice veterinarians from 16 of the 18 provinces/governorates. The Iraqi veterinary community can serve as a model to other sectors and industries as they develop strategies to move forward, noted Dr. Cowen.
Wrote Dr. Cowen, “On behalf of the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, and our interdisciplinary team I wish to thank you for sharing the capable Dr. Mo Salman with us for the 10 days it took to execute a one week workshop.”