We recently had the distinct pleasure of welcoming a small contingent of veterinary colleagues from Iraq for an educational exchange at AVMA headquarters. As leaders of the Iraqi Veterinary Medical Syndicate – soon to be renamed the Iraqi Veterinary Medical Association – our visitors are looking for ways to build their organization in both structure and stature, and they turned to the AVMA for guidance. This isn’t the first time we’ve provided this type of engagement – we welcomed similar delegations from China in 2010 and 2011, a delegation from Afghanistan in 2011, and Dr. Sayed Safi, then-president and current CEO of the Afghanistan Veterinary Association, in 2009.
All of these visitors came to learn more about the AVMA, organized veterinary medicine on a national level, the relationship between private and public veterinarians and academia, and how groups like ours help advance the profession and help educate the public about the critical role veterinarians play in society.
The Iraqi delegation was assisted in their visit by the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture. Dr. Konrad Eugster, the primary Borlaug Institute host for the delegation, wrote to us after the visit and shared the group’s impressions and appreciation. “On behalf of the Iraqi delegation,” he wrote, “I want to thank you for the fine hospitality that was provided to our guests at the AVMA. The program was excellent. This became evident on Friday when we worked hard on putting a document together on what the Iraqi Veterinary Medical Syndicate and the Kurdish Veterinary Medical Syndicate need to accomplish upon their return to Iraq. They realized then the importance of the information they received from the AVMA presenters.”
Visits like this aren’t a one-way street. As the AVMA has expanded its presence on the international stage, we have found that the concerns of the veterinary profession are very similar across the globe. As we learn about the challenges and opportunities facing our international veterinary colleagues, we can better advance our own strategic goals and ensure that the U.S. veterinary profession’s voice is heard in international settings.