The Fiji Veterinary Association writes that as 2011 draws to a close, so too does the International Year of the Veterinarian.
The world's first veterinary school was established in Lyon in France in 1761 and 2011 marks the 250th world anniversary of veterinary training.
The Lyon facility created the veterinary profession that has been working ever since to improve animal and human health. Over 100 veterinary schools have since been established globally.
Veterinarians have been in service in Fiji since 1923 when Dr Charles Turbet, a graduate of the University of Sydney, was appointed the first veterinary officer within the Department of Agriculture. He served for over 15 years, including a period as the acting director of agriculture in the late 1930s
Dr Alan Donald, whose father had worked for the department in the 1930s, established the veterinary laboratory at Koronivia in 1956 when his first lab assistant was Deo Raj Singh. Deo Raj subsequently acquired a veterinary degree from the University of Sydney and later became director of Animal Health and Production.
Fiji has been well-served by both expatriate and local veterinarians through to and after Independence and a total of 14 Fiji citizens have graduated with degrees in veterinary science and returned to Fiji to work.
At present, however, only six of these graduates remain in Fiji. Over 50 expatriate veterinarians have worked in Fiji since the early 1920s, mainly in the department but several have also worked in the corporate livestock sector here.
Although Fiji has sourced its veterinarians in the past from overseas veterinary schools, consideration is now being given to developing a veterinary program here in Fiji, possibly at the Fiji National University, where a Diploma in Animal Health has recently commenced.