The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has warmly welcomed the publication of the UK Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2013-2018 (download below) that calls for action in both human and animal medicine under the banner of One Health’.
The Strategy follows the UK Chief Medical Officer’s report in March 2013 that highlighted the significant scale of the threat of antimicrobial resistance, and has been published jointly by Defra, the Department of Health, the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive.
The Strategy sets out three strategic aims and outlines seven key areas for future action:
1. Improving infection prevention and control practices
2. Optimising prescribing practice
3. Improving education, training and public engagement
4. Developing new drugs, treatments and diagnostics
5. Better access to and use of surveillance
6. Better identification and prioritisation of AMR research needs
7. Strengthened international collaboration
It also details specific actions to be taken by each sector.
The Strategy acknowledges that increasing scientific evidence suggests that the clinical issues with antimicrobial resistance that are faced in human medicine are primarily the result of antibiotic use in people, rather than the use of antibiotics in animals, but that the use in animals is an important factor contributing to the wider pool of resistance.
The Strategy outlines action already taken within the veterinary profession, led by the BVA and the RCVS, including the detailed guidelines and posters on responsible use of antimicrobials in animals, and the introduction of a requirement in the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct for vets to use antimicrobials responsibly – something the BVA lobbied for.
Welcoming the Strategy, Peter Jones, BVA President, said antimicrobial resistance was one of the most significant threats to animal and human health.
“We fully support the aims of the UK Strategy,” he added. “The BVA has long championed the need for the responsible use of these vital medicines and we will continue to engage with vets in all types of practice to ensure that this message is heard loud and clear.
“In addition to measures to improve prescribing practices, we welcome the focus on surveillance, research needs, and development of new drugs. As the Strategy acknowledges, the development pipeline for new antibiotics is at an all-time low, which is very true of the animal health sector as well, and so we welcome measures to investigate how to manage this trend.
“We are also pleased to see definitive statements on the fact that the major driver for antibiotic resistance in people is the use of antibiotics in humans, but we fully recognise the need to tackle resistance in animals. That is why the One Health’ approach of medical and veterinary professionals working together will be crucial to the success of the Strategy.”