Study warns shortage of public health veterinarians

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Study warns shortage of public health veterinarians

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Feb 20, 2009
By dvm360.com staff
Washington -- Not only is there a widely publicized shortage of food-animal veterinarians, but a new report shows there is a dire shortage of public health veterinarians.

And the federal government doesn't have a clue.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report this month indicating a shortage or future shortage of public health veterinarians throughout government agencies, such as the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), which are all under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and branches of the military.

Most alarming is that while most of those agencies have assessed the problem individually, nothing has been done government wide to address the problem.

The GAO made nine recommendations to improve the ability of the federal veterinarian workforce to carry out routine activities, prepare for a catastrophic event and respond to zoonotic disease outbreaks.

In addition to those recommendations, Dr. Ron DeHaven will give testimony on behalf of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) next week in Washington. The AAVMC and the National Association of Federal Veterinarians also are scheduled to give testimony on Thursday.

To view the complete report, visit www.gao.gov.