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Q& A with Nigel Hor­rox of the WVPA

In Septem­ber, the World Vet­eri­nary Poul­try As­so­ci­a­tion will be hold­ing its global Congress in Cape Town. We met with the WVPA’S vice pres­i­dent and pres­i­dent elect Nigel Hor­rox, the Bri­tish poul­try vet­eri­nar­ian who is well known in South Africa, to find out more about WVPA and its ac­tiv­i­ties. Nigel was in South Africa with fel­low vice pres­i­dent, Pro­fes­sor Hafez Hafez from the Free Univer­sity of Ber­lin in Ger­many, to meet with the Congress’ Lo­cal Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee to make the fi­nal ar­range­ments for this pres­ti­gious event.

What ex­actly is the WVPA?

The WVPA is the global or­gan­i­sa­tion for poul­try vet­eri­nar­i­ans and health sci­en­tists. Its pri­mary ob­jec­tive is the ex­change of in­for­ma­tion on all mat­ters as­so­ci­ated with avian health. It does this by means of global con­gresses that are held ev­ery two years, and through its Asia meet­ings, which are held in the in­ter­ven­ing years. It also pub­lishes its sci­en­tific jour­nal, Avian Pathol­ogy.

The WVPA is made up of over 40 na­tional branches as well as in­di­vid­ual mem­bers from coun­tries where these aren’t present, and is run by an Elected Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee.

What con­sti­tutes a Na­tional Branch of WVPA?

If a coun­try has 20 or more mem­bers, it can cre­ate a branch with vot­ing rights at a global level. That branch then en­deav­ours to meet the aims of WVPA lo­cally in its own coun­try.

In Sub-sa­ha­ran Africa we

also have ‘sis­ter’ branches.

Can you tell us more about these ‘sis­ter’ branches?

WVPA wants to en­cour­age poul­try vet­eri­nar­i­ans in Sub-sa­ha­ran Africa to de­velop their ex­per­tise, but most of the coun­tries in this re­gion do not have enough poul­try vet­eri­nar­i­ans as yet to cre­ate their own branch of WVPA. So we ar­rived at an un­der­stand­ing with the South Africa Branch of WVPA whereby a coun­try can es­tab­lish what we call a ‘sis­ter’ branch with the South African branch as­sum­ing the role of ‘big sis­ter’ to help them in their for­ma­tive years. So far, we have sis­ter branches in Botswana, Zam­bia and Zim­babwe and there are oth­ers in the pipe­line. We see this as a log­i­cal way to progress as the coun­tries in this re­gion source most of their poul­try needs such as breed­ing stock, feed ad­di­tives, equip­ment and medicines and vac­cines from South Africa.

What is the his­tory of WVPA?

The WVPA was formed more than 50 years ago, and cel­e­brated its 50th birth­day at its Moroc­can congress in 2009. In its early days, WVPA tended to be cen­tred on Europe and the USA but nowa­days its mem­ber­ship is truly global, with sev­eral branches opened in Asia in re­cent years. His­tor­i­cally, the mem­ber­ship was mainly aca­demics and re­searchers, but over the years our mem­ber­ship base has widened to in­clude many prac­ti­tion­ers, con­sul­tants, govern­ment vet­eri­nar­i­ans as well as vet­eri­nar­i­ans em­ployed by poul­try com­pa­nies or com­pa­nies sup­ply­ing our in­dus­try, such as ge­net­ics houses, feed and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies.

The WVPA has steadily grown over the years and now has some 2,500 mem­bers, most of who be­long to one of the Na­tional Branches.

What about Africa?

The WVPA has been strong in North Africa for some time with Na­tional Branches in Morocco, Tu­nisia and Egypt, the last of which in­ci­den­tally hosted our Congress in 2002. The good news is that a Nige­rian branch as just been formed and it will be for­mally ac­cepted into WVPA dur­ing the Cape Town Congress. Cou­ple this to the sis­ter branches we dis­cussed ear­lier and I feel WVPA’S po­si­tion in Africa is a healthy one, but we would wel­come fur­ther growth in a re­gion which is ris­ing in global im­por­tance when it comes to poul­try pro­duc­tion.

What will be hap­pen­ing at the Cape Town Congress?

Our ac­tiv­i­ties will ba­si­cally fall into three ar­eas – the con­fer­ence, the ex­hi­bi­tion and the so­cial pro­gramme. The con­fer­ence com­prises some 20 or so in­vited key­note or ple­nary lec­tures that last for half an hour, with shorter sci­en­tific pa­pers that have been sub­mit­ted from around the world. The Cape Town Congress will be the first WVPA Congress that will fea­ture an elec­tronic poster wall.

The com­mer­cial ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures many global phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies that ser­vice the poul­try sec­tor and pro­vides a great op­por­tu­nity for col­leagues from in­dus­try,→

prac­tice and academia or re­search to net­work.

The so­cial pro­gramme is cen­tred on the open­ing re­cep­tion and a Gala Din­ner, and of course we ex­pect del­e­gates to en­joy the nu­mer­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties pre­sented by the Cape winer­ies, the Wa­ter­front and the Cape of Good Hope!

Is there any­thing spe­cial?

Ev­ery Congress fea­tures the pres­ti­gious Avian Pathol­ogy Lec­ture. This year, Dr Di­eter Lieb­hart from Vi­enna, Aus­tria will speak on ‘Strate­gies to pre­vent his­tomo­ni­a­sis in poul­try’. In ad­di­tion, there are some great key­note lec­tures, in­clud­ing one from Pro­fes­sor Trevor Smith from Canada, who’s go­ing to speak on my­co­tox­ins. Pro­fes­sor Thaweesak Songserm from Thai­land will be cov­er­ing duck dis­eases. Both these gen­tle­men are great ora­tors!

Three awards will also be pre­sented, in­clud­ing the Bart Ris­pens Award (spon­sored by MSD An­i­mal Health) for the best pa­per pub­lished in Avian Pathol­ogy dur­ing the previous two years; the Wvpa-zoetis Young Poul­try Vet­eri­nar­ian Award; and the Wvpa-merial In­no­va­tion in Vac­ci­na­tion Award. Last year, a great young South African vet­eri­nar­ian, Adrian Knoetze, who works for Rain­bow, won the Young Poul­try Vet­eri­nar­ian Award.

What are you look­ing for­ward to in your pres­i­dency and what are your goals?

Ithink I will find it quite a hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence, as I will be the first pres­i­dent of WVPA not to come from an academia/re­search back­ground. I see the pres­i­dency as a stew­ard­ship and so, although I’ll take over an or­gan­i­sa­tion that’s in good health, my pri­mary aim will be to hand over a stronger and larger or­gan­i­sa­tion to my suc­ces­sor. In ad­di­tion, we live in times when poul­try pro­duc­tion is un­der a pub­lic spot­light, be it for an­tibi­otic us­age, bird wel­fare, ac­cred­i­ta­tion schemes or avian in­fluenza. Here again, the role of WVPA as a stew­ard of the is­sues in­volved could come to the fore. Fi­nally, I’ll be look­ing to see how poul­try vet­eri­nar­i­ans in the de­vel­oped in­dus­tries of the world can help their less ex­pe­ri­enced coun­ter­parts in emerg­ing poul­try in­dus­tries de­velop their pro­fes­sional com­pe­ten­cies.

What can the South African Poul­try sec­tor do now?

Hannes Swart and his Lo­cal Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee have done a great job. What they need at the eleventh hour is a great turnout from the South African col­leagues and for these peo­ple to in­ter­act with their in­ter­na­tional guests to en­sure they re­ceive a great tra­di­tional South African wel­come! Any­one want­ing to know more should go to the Congress’ web site at www. wv­pac2015.com.

Fi­nally, what does the fu­ture hold for the WVPA

In Septem­ber, I am sure that we are go­ing to have a great Congress in Cape Town. In 2016 there will be the WVPA Asian meet­ing in Manila in the Philip­pines, which will be fol­lowed by our next global congress in Ed­in­burgh, Scot­land, in 2017.

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