QUY NHON, Vietnam - Members of Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development joined efforts with Pacific Partnership 2010 for the first time to engage in a three-day conference concerning veterinary care in Quy Nhon, which started June 3.

Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors aimed at strengthening regional partnerships among U.S. government organizations, host nations, partner nations, and international humanitarian and relief organizations.

Pacific Partnership also affords the opportunity for subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) as in the form of the three-day veterinary conference.

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 improve the manner in which all participants approach their science, according to 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,” said North.

As the engagement evolved, both sides were able to discover the common ground they share in their field, explore the differences, and agree that both sides would welcome 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,” said North.

Upon completion of Pacific Partnership, some NGOs will remain in place and serve as a steady link between Vietnam and others interested in similar collaboration./p>

“This is just the first step,” said Rachel Halpin, member of World Vets, one of eight NGOs participating in Pacific Partnership in Vietnam.

“World Vets’ goal is to establish a communication with the Vietnamese during Pacific Partnership,” said Halpin, “then come back and continue the work of education and development.”

Veterinary care and welfare for animals throughout rural Vietnam is an essential consideration for the general population as animals are interconnected with the livelihood of the population, from helping cultivate crops to providing companionship.

“In Vietnam I’ve seen the whole spectrum of animal influence in people’s lives. I hope to see them be able to improve their quality of veterinary care, both in treating dogs and cats to treating water buffalo; but also in terms of public health, something we continuously strive for back home,” said Halpin.