European pig vets have decided to set up a new association, the European Association of Porcine Health Management (EAPHM). The objectives of the new association are primarily educational to increase contact and interaction across an increasingly borderless Europe but also to represent their interests and views on increasingly important aspects of welfare, health and production that are on the horizon.
In recent years a European College of Porcine Health Management was established through the European College system to progress education, research and through a series of internships, develop the new researchers and pig specialists of the future. This college was primarily aimed at co-ordinating the universities that still teach pig medicine and now has a flourishing membership of 150 veterinarian diplomates and residents. However, this left the veterinary practitioner under-represented and in order to rectify this, it was decided at the recent ECPHM symposium in Hanover vet school (attended by 240 pig veterinarians and researchers) to form the new association.
A working group, with representatives from Germany, Spain, Belgium, Denmark and France, supported by key pharmaceutical representatives from Intervet SP, Merial, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer, Eurovet and Orion, has brought this together and was voted through at the symposium. John Mackinnon, an experienced practising veterinarian from the UK, was installed as the first new President and the supporting board were from Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Spain, France and the Netherlands.
Further sub-committees will be set up on education, external relations, internal communication (its own website), student support and liaison and it is anticipated to have an annual EAPHM congress, alongside the College's symposium, the first being in Ghent, Belgium in May 2012.
As well as representing and supporting its own industry the Association is keen to work closely with the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, which was its model, Asian Pig Veterinary Society, International Pig Veterinary Society and European national associations and societies.
With Europe producing over 250 million pigs a year in comparison with the US's 105 million, it is definitely time that our veterinary forces (potentially over 1000 vets) were better co-ordinated to improve and exchange information. We are facing a lot of pressures from welfare changes, which will require significant management changes in the near future, as well as health challenges from swine fever and African swine fever on our borders. At a time of increasing global trade and challenges it is important that, as veterinarians, we fulfil our role in maintaining the health, welfare and sustainability of our industry. I am sure we will hear a lot more of the EAPHM as it develops in the future months and years.