Commentary: Fourth CVC Features First Equine Track

Commentary: Fourth CVC Features First Equine Track

The equine session was well attended with over 60 delegates from many Chinese provinces.

Photo: Christopher Riggs, BVSc, PhD, DEO, Dipl. ECVS , MRCVS

WEVA board member Chris Riggs, BVSc, PhD, DEO, Dipl. ECVS, MRCVS, head of veterinary clinical services at the Hong Kong Jockey Club Equine Hospital, shares his thoughts on the recent Chinese Veterinary Conference's equine track.

The 4th Chinese Veterinary Conference (CVC) was jointly hosted by the China Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and the China Animal Disease Control Centre (CADC), and the People’s Government of Guangxi Aquatic Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Bureau was the local organiser. The meeting, held Oct. 28-30 and timed to coincide with China National Vet Day on Oct. 28, was held in a large conference centre in Guilin, Guangxi Province.

After a long and rather formal opening ceremony delegates split into multiple streams, which included sessions on aquatic animals, ruminants, small animal practice, pigs, and horses. There was a large trade exhibition that focused on laboratory diagnostic equipment, drugs (a relatively small range, principally for the swine industry), vaccines (none for horses), and digital radiography and ultrasonographic equipment.

Having attended the 3rd CVC in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, in 2012, I was disappointed at the lack of coverage on equine-related topics. Following discussions with the Deputy Secretary General of the CVMA, Dr. Wang Qingbo, I agreed to assist the CVMA in organizing the first equine-specific stream at the 2013 CVC. The Hong Kong Jockey Club kindly provided sponsorship, which was further boosted by support from the World Equine Veterinary Association (WEVA).

The equine stream included fifteen presentations by ten different speakers over the one full and two half days of the meeting. Six western speakers gave eleven of the presentations while local Chinese colleagues presented the remaining four.

The program covered by Western speakers was comprised of elements on important principles of equine husbandry and technical modern practice. These included talks on equine nutrition, common causes of lameness and their management, routine health programs, and conditions of the horse’s back, among others. Kate Savage, BVSc (Hons), MS, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, of WEVA, gave presentations on common medical conditions affecting sports horses and a review of recent technical advances in equine medicine.

While introducing Savage, I took the opportunity to thank WEVA and to advertise the Board’s keen interest to assist colleagues in China. There was great interest among the delegates and an enthusiastic response to a proposal to hold an intermediary WEVA meeting in China, particularly one with practical components.

At the request of the organizing committee I gave a presentation on practical tips to increase the success in the surgical management of colic, which provided an opportunity to discuss the critical need for agents to induce and maintain general anesthesia. Currently no suitable agents are available to equine practitioners in China. In fact, access to most medications that are essential in the provision of modern veterinary care is severely restricted throughout China. This point was further emphasized in discussions surrounding a talk on clinical cover at equestrian events as veterinarians do not have access to products to humanely euthanize a severely injured horse.

The last morning of the conference was devoted to presentations by local Chinese veterinarians and included presentations on:

  • The treatment of soft tissue injuries, including laminitis, with traditional Chinese medicine by Professor Li Yunzhang of Inner Mongolia Agriculture University;
  • Surgical management of colic in the horse by Professor Guo Qingyong, Xinjiang Agriculture University;
  • Development of an influenza vaccine for horses by Professor Wang Xiaojun, National Key Laboratory of Veterinary Biotechnology at the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences' Harbin Veterinary Research Institute; and
  • Upper respiratory tract medicine by Dr. Wang, Inner Mongolia Agriculture University.

The talks were well-illustrated, informative, and well-received by the audience. I was particularly interested in the presentation by Guo, who illustrated heroic surgical efforts to save horses suffering from acute abdominal catastrophes that must have been extremely traumatic for both patient and surgeon. It further emphasized the need for general anesthetic agents in China.

The equine session was well attended with over 60 delegates from many Chinese provinces. Everyone appeared enthusiastic and warmly welcomed the overseas speakers and the interest we showed in their work in China. There is a hunger for information and to learn new skills and a genuine desire to serve the horse more effectively. There is also the feeling that things are starting to move and, indeed, gathering momentum. The appearance of digital radiography in the trade show underlines that this most basic of diagnostic imaging modalities is starting to become a practical reality for some equine practitioners (although radiation safety equipment was notable by its absence!).

Finding a solution to overcome the lack of access to legitimate medications and lack of reliable drugs for veterinarians in China must be a critical focus in the immediate future. This probably represents the single most important issue holding back safe and effective practice of equine veterinary science in China. Regrettably, there is a strong black-market trade in western veterinary medications, some of which are available to limited practitioners in key metropolitan areas. While a few animals might benefit, there is a danger that this illegal trade could undermine the sense of urgency among potentially influential partners to find a solution. This will require persistent political lobbying and delicate negotiation although it is hard to find anyone who appears willing to take this on in China.

I raised the issue of a China Equine Veterinary Association and the value that would have in helping colleagues to organize themselves for sharing information, providing support to each other, and lobbying for change. However, obtaining any formal recognition of an organized group is a difficult and protracted process in China and external parties might have to play a significant role in these processes for the foreseeable future.

Overall I thought that the meeting was a great success. Delegates seemed to enjoy themselves and appreciate the opportunity to share notes and discuss difficult cases as well as hear of new techniques. My fellow speakers and I left feeling optimistic that there is a bright path ahead, although there are several significant hurdles for which there are as yet no obvious solutions.


I am grateful to the Hong Kong Jockey Club who, through their generous sponsorship, made the CVC's equine seminar possible. I also acknowledge the support provided by the World Equine Veterinary Association.

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