A multidisciplinary delegation of Armenians and Georgians, led by animal health experts from Colorado State University, visited California on a one week study tour of the US animal health system. The group visited dairy farm operations in Northern California, an anthrax laboratory at University of California at Davis and a private veterinary clinic before attending the 117th Annual Meeting of the United States Animal Health Association in San Diego. The visit provided the delegation with new perspectives and firsthand experience of the public-private dialogue surrounding important animal health issues in the United States. Dr. Valerie Ragan of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and Colorado State University veterinary experts Dr. Debby Reynolds and Dr. Mo Salman facilitated a workshop on implementing an animal anthrax case control study.
The Armenian delegates reported significant outcomes and improvement from the study tour. They cited the importance of getting acquainted with veterinary culture in other countries and collaboration with their Georgian neighbors. They presented their findings on the importance of collaboration and synergy between different animal health structures (including veterinarians and labs) to their colleagues and leadership. With this increased recognition, they reported inter-ministerial and regional collaboration with their Georgian neighbors is increasing. US Department of Agriculture program manager, Lindsay Malecha noted that “this study tour has been an excellent opportunity for both delegations to observe the animal health policy making process in the United States and will allow them to apply relevant lessons in their respective countries. This opportunity also helped create collaborative efforts between Armenia and Georgia to tackle trans boundary animal disease concerns.”
The visit and workshop were part of the ongoing collaboration between the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service and the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture, funded by US Department of State. The goal of the program is to provide capacity building and support for government leaders to address critical animal health issues of national concern, mainly focused on diseases of economic and/or public health impact.