Veterinary education commenced in South Africa in 1920 at the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute in South Africa in association with the Transvaal University College, now the University of Pretoria. Sir Arnold Theiler, Director of Veterinary Research and Education, was the first Dean. Today there are 46 veterinary training institutions in Africa of which 21 are in sub-Saharan Africa.Veterinary services are indispensable to the sustained health and wellbeing of animals and humans, and agricultural economies of countries worldwide. Veterinary education, postgraduate training, and research, and adequate numbers of veterinarians, are essential to satisfy the millennium development goals, the objectives of NEPAD and the African Union, and the agreements regulating international trade. The relevance of the veterinary profession internationally is currently subject to profound scrutiny. Its
contributions are assessed against major environmental, demographic, political, disease, technological
and economic needs. The scope of veterinary training in future will have to emphasise veterinary
public health, food safety, emerging diseases, international trade, bioterrorism, and biomedical research,
within the context of a one-health system focusing on the interface between wildlife, domesticated
animals, humans, and their environment. Within the context of time available, it would mean
reducing the time allocated to training in the field of companion animals.
A brief history and scope of veterinary education; current international trends in veterinary education
and provisioning; and some perspectives on future veterinary training and initiatives applicable to
Africa are provided.