New global research reports that bacterial Anti-microbial Resistance (AMR) has become a leading cause of death worldwide and is killing about 3,500 people every day. If left unchecked deaths are expected to reach 10 million per year by 2050.
World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) is a global campaign celebrated each year between 18-24th November with the slogan Antimicrobials: Handle with Care. The aim is to increase global awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and promote best practice among One Health stakeholders to reduce emergence and spread of drug-resistant pathogens.
The WAAW campaign theme for 2022 is ‘Preventing antimicrobial resistance together’.
AMR is a major threat to humans, animals, plants and the environment so a cross sectoral “One Health” approach is needed to reduce the need for antimicrobials and minimise the emergence of AMR.
DAERA, Department of Health (DoH) and Food Standards Agency NI (FSANI), are working together to address antimicrobial resistance and deliver the action plan for tackling AMR in Northern Ireland “Changing the Culture 2019-2024: One Health”.
Why is AMR important for farmers and veterinarians?
The United Kingdom is one of the most significant livestock producers in Europe, responsible for the health and welfare of over a billion animals each year. Antibiotics are essential medicines for protection of animal health and welfare, and it is estimated 70% of antibiotics are consumed by animals while 30% are consumed by humans. Responsible use of these critical medicines is essential to ensure they remain available to protect both animal and human health, as it is now recognised that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a critical and growing threat to global health, food safety and security.
Good farm management, biosecurity and animal husbandry systems are crucial to minimise the occurrence or spread of disease and therefore reduce the need for antibiotics. Veterinarians and farmers have a crucial role in ensuring prudent use of antimicrobials - Reduce Antimicrobial use, Reduce Antimicrobial resistance.
The UK Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance (UK-VARSS) Report has just been released and presents veterinary antibiotic sales, usage and resistance data from the UK for 2021. The Supplementary Material documents provide further details and antibiotic resistance data from clinical surveillance in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The UK-VARSS 2021 Report has become a key source of accurate information for stakeholders, including policymakers, the livestock industry, and other interested parties. The report shows the UK’s achievement in reducing antibiotic consumption year on year since 2014 to 2021, making it one of the lowest users of antibiotics across Europe.
A further report "Tackling antimicrobial use and resistance in food-producing animals: Lessons learned in the United Kingdom", has shown significant success in tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in food-producing animals in the UK through a voluntary collaborative approach to antimicrobial stewardship. The report, published in partnership between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the UK’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), states that increased awareness and understanding of AMR amongst producers and vets has led to behaviour change, instilling a shift in culture. This change has been a key factor that led to the 55% decrease in the sale of antibiotics for food-producing animals since 2014.
Handle Antimicrobials with Care – 6 steps for farmers and animal owners to follow.
DAERA encourages farmers and farm families to participate in the CAFRE Farm Family Key Skills Responsible Use of Antimicrobials courses, available free of charge online or in person. Futher information and registration details can be found at Agriculture - Training Courses |cafre.ac.uk.
Vets should check out the RCVS AMR Hub at AMR | knowledge.rcvs.org.uk and sign up for Farm Vet Champions to access resources that empower veterinary practitioners to establish good antimicrobial stewardship in practices and with their clients.
For more information on AMR and WAAW check out: Antimicrobial Resistance Hub | Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (daera-ni.gov.uk).
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