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Inside the WSAVA

Published: 2/6/2018

Meet Siraya Chunekamrai, Vice President of the WSAVA. Siraya is a member of the WSAVA Executive Board and a veterinarian in Thailand. She is Chair of the WSAVA PR and Communications Committee and is also responsible for the One Care initiative. One Care helps our member associations to set achievable standards for veterinary practice in their countries. Rather than seek to impose ‘top down’ common standards, it uses a participatory approach to enable members to set realistic goals for improvement based on their specific situation and the outcome they wish to achieve.

Could you summarize your career to date?

I qualified as a DVM in Thailand and received a graduate research scholarship to complete my PhD at Cornell University NYSCVM.  I decided to return to my home country as there were obviously more challenging needs to be met there and I founded two private practices 28 years ago, including the first equine surgery in the country – ‘The Horsepital’.

I also founded and still run two pony welfare foundations for underprivileged equines in the north of Thailand and in Cambodia. I am privileged to be able to work in communities that remind me every day that animal welfare is intertwined with human welfare.

What is your ‘day job’?

Despite being on the board of many small animal associations and committees, I am still an equine practitioner.  I also teach equine medicine and surgery in most veterinary schools in Thailand. Equines may not be small animals but they are still our companions.

When and how did you first get involved with the WSAVA?

In 2010 I was invited to join WSAVA Congress Steering Committee and I joined the Executive Board as the seventh member in 2011. At first, I joined because I wanted to ensure that the WSAVA had true representation from all over the world and, in particular, from Asia.  I felt that it could not call itself the World Small Animal Veterinary Association if half of the world was not represented.

When I met the Board, I realized they were a group of amazingly devoted volunteers who all want to do what is best for our profession.  Now I feel truly privileged and humble to be a member.

What does your role on the Executive Board involve?

I am Vice President and am responsible for overseeing strategic planning for the WSAVA for the next five years - 2019-2024. We have started this process already, taking feedback from recent members’ forums.  These events help us to collate ideas and needs and enable us to achieve the mission of the WSAVA by carrying out activities that are relevant to all of our members.

What do you enjoy most and what do you find most challenging?

Working with communities! We now have our WSAVA ONE CARE INITIATIVE which uses a participatory approach to engage our members to help them become empowered to tackle their key issues with WSAVA support. This is a far cry from the old ‘TOP-DOWN’ approach and means that the WSAVA is a supporter and facilitator rather than an agent of change.  It is difficult to deliver because it involves a change of mindset – but it is starting to demonstrate great results.


Why do you think the WSAVA’s work is so important?

From our members forums, surveys, social media compilation, it is apparent that there is a global need for veterinarians to help each other to become One. One Standard, One Care, One Voice. To be able to reach this goal we must work as a community.  Look around and you will see that only the WSAVA has the capability to foster a true ‘global veterinary community.’

Which WSAVA initiatives or activities are you most closely involved in?

I lead the ONE CARE INITIATIVE which is not a committee but a group of facilitators who are now trained in participatory approaches.  They will be working with our member associations to help them create change from a grass roots level. The basis of participatory methods recognizes the importance of ‘human behavior change’ to create sustainable and effective outcomes in most development projects.

I also lead the PR and Communications Committee which currently has an excellent team professional, Rebecca George, who is working closely with our service provider Vetstream to bring awareness and understanding of WSAVA activities to more of our members, veterinarians and pet owners globally.

What do you do when you are not working?

Good question!  I travel – though much of my travel involves WSAVA work or pony welfare work which I really enjoy.  These activities expand my horizons.  The amount I learn from people from different cultures and from the younger generation never ceases to amaze me.

Do you have a message for WSAVA members for 2018?

WOW… try to live like the young folks today! They will save our profession and change the world. Stay hungry, keep connecting, try to have ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) and don’t forget to LOL.