Vets welcome global joint working to defeat resistant superbugs

19 May 2016

The global Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), commissioned by the UK government and chaired by Lord O’Neill, has published (19 May) its final report calling for incentives to develop antibiotics, improved diagnostics and vaccines, and country-specific targets for the reduction of antimicrobial use in livestock.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed Lord O’Neill’s final global review, recognising that vets and other key stakeholders must continue to show leadership in order to tackle AMR on a global scale. BVA met with the Review team and had the opportunity to provide information on some of the proactive work taking place in the UK to promote the responsible use of antimicrobials.

Responding to the final report, British Veterinary Association President Sean Wensley said:
"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. We 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.

“BVA has opposed the introduction of arbitrary, non-evidence based target setting; 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 UK poultry meat sector has done excellent work to achieve a 96 per cent reduction in the use of fluoroquinolones last year, and the UK pig sector has recently introduced an online medicines book to record antimicrobial usage, which may subsequently inform future target setting, while the UK cattle sector is actively working to implement a similar recording and monitoring system and is committed to strategies that seek to use antimicrobials only when necessary.

“We welcome the call for an expert group to develop proposals on setting targets so that they do not restrict vets’ ability to treat animal disease outbreaks that could threaten public health and animal welfare.

"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.

"The current EU legislation on vets’ prescribing of antibiotics for all animals, including those farmed for food, is robust and we would like to see equivalent legislation adopted at international level.”

BVA 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.

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