Poster-drop your doc! A One Health approach to tackling AMR

Posted on March 14, 2017 by Sean Wensley

A colourful “Are you antibiotic aware?” poster was distributed to all BVA members in the January edition of In Practice (volume 39, issue 1). It conveys 6 top tips on responsible antibiotic use, and is a first in targeting these messages to both human patients and animal owners.

Across the bottom, a clutch of logos represents a unified, partnership approach by veterinary and human healthcare organisations - BVA, the British Medical Association (BMA), Public Health England (PHE) and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) - who have come together around the shared imperative of tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

A united One Health front

BVA’s intention in distributing the poster is that it would be ideally suited to both vets’ and doctors’ waiting rooms, reinforcing the same clear messages – such as always finishing the prescribed course and that not every illness requires antibiotics – whether people are visiting for themselves or their pet. Raising awareness of appropriate antibiotic use amongst patients, animal owners and the wider public, as part of a multi-disciplinary One Health approach, is a key action in the UK 5 Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2013-2018.

Reaching out to your local GP practice

With the poster agreed and printed, how easy would it be to get it on practice walls UK-wide? One approach we considered would be for vets and vet nurses to make a friendly introduction to their local medical GP practice and take the poster with them, so I tried it for myself.

Bangor Health Centre is home to 5 GP practices with reception and waiting room areas for each. Having listened to the gist of my proposal at the front desk, the accommodating receptionists put me in touch with practice manager, Debbie Nield, who was very receptive and invited me in for a short meeting a few days later. She had kind words to say about vets, as a horse owner, and was interested to hear about the One Health concept, linking the health and wellbeing of animals, people and the environment. She was happy to display the poster in principle, and said she would do so after speaking to the practice partners.

Opening doors to One Health

Dr Grainne Doran and Sean WensleyThe visit was even more beneficial than simply getting the poster displayed, as partner Dr Grainne Doran had recently taken over as Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners in Northern Ireland (RCGP NI). She, too, is keen to form new and innovative collaborations, particularly where these will help alleviate pressures on the stretched healthcare service.

I’ve since had a great meeting with RCGP NI Policy and Public Affairs Officer, Clare Higgins, who was extremely enthusiastic about potential One Health opportunities, and a brief but encouraging meeting with Grainne at her busy surgery, where the poster is now displayed. Debbie Nield has said she will share the poster with practice managers from other surgeries, at the local practice managers’ forum. I am very grateful to all the staff for their warm welcomes and enthusiasm.

Towards a UK One Health Co-ordination Group

BVA is actively working towards the creation of a UK One Health Co-ordination Group, with the assistance of medics and environmental professionals, as an action from the Vet Futures report. Like the UK AMR strategy, its successes will rely on all of us and a wide range of partners acting locally, nationally and globally. By displaying the AMR poster in veterinary practice waiting rooms and taking it to our local GP practices, each of BVA’s 16000+ members will be taking further small steps towards combating one of the greatest public and animal health threats of our time.

To order free copies of the poster for your practice, please contact marketing@bva.co.uk

Sean Wensley

Written by Sean Wensley

BVA President from September 2015 to September 2016

Sean is Senior Veterinary Surgeon for Communication and Education at PDSA, based in Northern Ireland. He is also an Honorary Lecturer in animal welfare at the University of Nottingham.