SA HOSTS WORLD POULTRY VETS
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.