The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed Lord O’Neill’s final AMR review, while recognising that vets and other key stakeholders must continue to show leadership in order to tackle AMR on a global scale.
“Antimicrobial resistance is a global issue, which the veterinary profession is deeply concerned about as it threatens our ability to treat animals and protect human health,” said BVA president, Sean Wensley. “We therefore welcome Lord O’Neill’s report, which recognises the importance of using a whole range of measures in both human and animal health to tackle AMR, and the fact that action must be taken globally.”
The president also sought to clarify the association’s position in relation to the O’Neill report’s recommendation of setting AMR reduction targets in relation to agriculture.
“BVA has opposed the introduction of arbitrary, non-evidence based target setting,” he said. “Such targets, to reduce antibiotic use, risk restricting vets’ ability to treat animal diseases, which could have serious public health and animal welfare implications.
“However, we accept that evidence-based targets to reduce usage in animal agriculture are likely to form part of the solution to address AMR on a global scale. Therefore we are pleased that the report recognises the need for targets to be evidence-based and country-specific, acknowledging that the UK and Europe have already taken action such as banning the use of antibiotics as growth promoters.”
The president paid tribute to the UK poultry meat sector for the “excellent work” it had done to achieve a 96% reduction in the use of fluoroquinolones last year and to the UK pig sector, which has recently introduced an online medicines book to record antimicrobial usage, a step which he said may subsequently inform future target setting.
“The reduced use of antibiotics in animal agriculture is just one piece of the jigsaw when tackling AMR and we need to foster increased collaboration between health sectors – with the veterinary profession committed to playing its part – to ensure positive steps are taken to preserve these essential drugs for future generations,” he added.
Mr Wensley also highlighted the importance of research and development to address AMR, including investment to develop better vaccines, investment in pen-side diagnostics and investment in agriculture itself to support good animal health and welfare.