Pacific Partnership 2010 Public Affairs
June 8, 2010 - Members of the government of Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development met with U.S. Army veterinarians for the first time during a veterinary care conference held here June 3-6. The conference was part of Pacific Partnership 2010, the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance initiatives aimed at strengthening regional partnerships among U.S. government agencies, host nations, partner nations, and international humanitarian and relief organizations.
Pacific Partnership also affords the opportunity for subject matter expert exchanges, such as in the form of the three-day veterinary conference held in Vietnam.
Something unique in this year's Pacific Partnership mission is the opportunity for Vietnamese, non-governmental organizations, and U.S. Army veterinarians to come together and exchange ideas and techniques that ultimately help to improve the manner in which all participants approach their science, according to Army Capt. (Dr.) Jolene North, a veterinarian with the Japan District Veterinary Command, Misawa Branch, and team lead for the conference.
"Since this is our first contact with Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, it was important for us to open the lanes of communication and obtain an understanding of the Vietnamese animal care," North said.
As the engagement progressed, American and Vietnamese veterinarians were able to discover the common ground they share in their field of expertise and explore the differences. Both groups welcomed the opportunity to meet again.
"What was apparent to all of us was our dedication to patients and our desire to improve our field by using our individual resources as efficiently as possible, and this is only the beginning," North said.
Upon completion of this year's Pacific Partnership, some NGOs will remain in place and serve as a steady link between Vietnam and others interested in similar collaboration.
"This is just the first step," said World Vets member Rachel Halpin. World Vets is one of eight NGOs participating in Pacific Partnership in Vietnam.
"World Vets' goal is to establish a communication with the Vietnamese during Pacific Partnership," Halpin said, "[and] then come back and continue the work of education and development."
Veterinary care and welfare for animals is essential throughout rural Vietnam where animals are interconnected with residents' livelihoods, from helping cultivate crops to providing companionship.
"I hope to see them be able to improve their quality of veterinary care," Halpin said, "both in treating dogs and cats to treating water buffalo; but also in terms of public health, something we continuously strive for back home."