U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard (R- Colo), a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, secured language in the passage of the Higher Education Authorization bill passed in July that will award grants to veterinary schools to improve public health preparedness through increasing the number of veterinarians in the workforce. Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo) was one of the Act’s co-sponsors.
“As the only school in the Rocky Mountain region to provide educational opportunities for veterinary students, Senator Allard’s Veterinary Public Health Workforce Act will allow us to increase our educational capacity for veterinary students, respond to the national need for veterinarians in public health sectors, and provide services to our rural communities,” said Dr. Lance Perryman, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. “We thank Senator Allard for his leadership and efforts in addressing the needs of our veterinary workforce.”
Veterinarians are often the first line of defense in protecting human health through the early detection and response to unusual disease events that could be linked to emerging infectious diseases, or other bio-threat agents of concern. During the past decade, the world has faced a significant increase of newly emerging infectious disease outbreaks, including West Nile virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), monkeypox and avian influenza.
“As a veterinarian myself, I know that veterinary medicine is an integral and indispensable component of America’s public health system,” said Sen. Allard. “Right now, the nation’s veterinary medical colleges do not have the resources necessary to meet the needs for veterinarians that are vital to maintain public health preparedness. I applaud the Senate for passing the Higher Education Authorization bill which included the Veterinary Public Health Workforce Expansion Act that I sponsored to address the shortage of veterinarians working in the public health practice.”
The Veterinary Public Health Workforce Expansion Act will create a new competitive grant program for capital improvements to allow veterinary medical colleges to expand their training programs for public health professionals. The Senate approved the Higher Education Authorization bill by a vote of 95-0.