The 35th SAVAB-Flanders Congress took place in Antwerp, Belgium from March 5 to 7, 2020. Belgians were great hosts not only for the delegates but also for FECAVA representatives, who gathered in Antwerp in considerable number (despite absences due to the coronavirus outbreak), to attend the first FECAVA meeting this year. Different activities took place during the Congress days, reaching its peak with the Council Meeting on Saturday.
What caught our attention during the Congress was the Mental Health and Well-being corner, which focused on the relaxation of delegates. Two masseuses were working and yoga mats were also available for use. The Belgian association is definitely aware of the importance of the well-being of their vets.
The members of the FECAVA Board first met in the afternoon before Congress, to discuss the necessary changes of the Constitution. All changes will have to be supported by at least 2/3 of FECAVA directors to be accepted. The work on the Constitution was presented to the other FECAVA Directors at the Council Meeting on Saturday. The Board continued their work on Thursday, together with the Financial Committee. Friday was reserved for the meetings of all FECAVA Working Groups and Committees. It ended in a relaxing atmosphere at the social event in a restaurant at the top of Museum aan de Stroom, with a beautiful view over the city.
Saturday Council Meeting started with the greeting from the current FECAVA President Denis Novak and continued into work reports of the Board and Financial Advisory Committee.
Ann Criel presented the work of the new FVE Animal Welfare Working Group which had its first physical meeting in October last year. The Companion Animal field in the group is represented by Dominique Autier – Derian and Ann Criel. They are going to review a paper on breeding guidelines, which FVE and FECAVA had already given the input on, and push on introducing mandatory identification and registration of dogs and cats. They will also be working on irresponsible production and selling of puppies and inappropriate training of dogs. Her report was supplemented by Thierry Chambon, who pointed out some other topics on cats, that will have to be covered by the Group in the next months (recognition of chronic pain in old cats, enforcing indoor group living with other cats, stray cat management …).
Mr. Chambon also mentioned a voluntary initiative European Animal Welfare Platform, with a subgroup working on improving the health and welfare of pets (especially dogs). He showed several maps with differences in the current status between European countries regarding:
− mandatory identification and registration of dogs,
− presence of minimum requirements to sell pets online,
− obligatory registration of professional breeders,
− different legally defined categories of breeders,
− whether it is allowed to sell dogs/cats in pet shops,
− who is allowed to put transponder implants in pets.
Mr. Chambon emphasized that if we want to achieve the EU law to force a mandatory identification and registration of pets, we need to set up a common database.
At the end, he presented FVE Guidelines for Online Platforms Selling Dogs – How to do it responsibly? which include minimum information that should be listed about the dog and the breeder. Those guidelines could be the baseline for future legislation.
Danny Holmes reported on the work of FVE Medicines Working Group and EPRUMA. The FVE Medicines Working Group (MWG) is collaborating with EMA (European Medicines Agency) on delegating and implementing acts of the new Veterinary Medicines Regulation. One of the most important ones is the Veterinary Database, which will give veterinarians access to the database of all medicines on the EU market in each country. Mr. Holmes and Mr. Chambon both mentioned the new AMEG/EMA antibiotic categorization, the final version of which was published in January.
FVE asked the MWG to produce a paper on CBD Oil and Canabidiols, which have been gaining more in popularity. The paper is already in the process of writing and will probably be published soon. A Reflection Paper for the FVE will also be made.
Mr. Chambon mentioned the new pharmacovigilance system in Europe (EudraVigilance), which gives us the possibility to report adverse reactions in the use of veterinary medicines directly to the EMA website.
Denis Novak presented the FECAVA’s upcoming project: Factsheets on Anesthesia in Clinical Practice, which will be carried out with the help of worldwide recognized anesthesia specialists Paulo Steagall and Polly Taylor. The guidelines will be published in a peer-reviewed journal as a document and additional tools like infographics, fact-sheets and checklists will be created. Guidelines should be ready for publication in Spring 2021.
Mr. Novak also presented an update on FECAVA Communication in 2020. According to the VetSurvey, performed in 2018, 67% of veterinarians across Europe indicate currently using Social Media in their professional lives, with Facebook and Websites being the most popular. FECAVA is well present on both media. The FECAVA webpage was redesigned in the last year and all current content is immediately published.
In the middle of the meeting, to relax minds and take care of ourselves, a short workshop on Mental Health was held by the FECAVA Veterinary Mental Health and Well-being Working Group.
Danny Holmes presented the work of the Policy Committee, which among other things discussed continuing education and extreme breeding. They are thinking of developing a “toolbox” on the website, to know what has worked in different countries to get the attraction and highlight the issues of extreme breeding.
Wolfgang Dohne and Walt Ingerson (WSAVA) have been working on a document “Global Code of Conduct”, which will offer guidance on respect and good practice in professional relationships within the veterinary sector. It is looking at ways, how to be a better colleague, talking about well-being in practice and stress coming from the relationship between co-workers.
Also, UEVP’s new board, elected last year, met a week ago. Bob Carrière presented the UEVP vision, mission and the focus points of their work. He again mentioned the results of the FVE Survey 2018 and invited to use the report, which is very interesting and freely available on the website. The UEVP is celebrating its 50thanniversary at the end of this year.
As the meeting was in Belgium, a special guest was there to present interesting news from the country. Soren De Craene, the owner of practice for small exotic animals, talked about the return of the Wolf back to Belgium in 2011. An interesting debate followed about the different situations and experiences with wolves in other European countries.