GLOBAL - Antibiotics need using responsibly if the danger of growing levels of resistant bacteria is to be addressed, animal health experts are advising during Antibiotic Awareness Week.
Latest reports for the European Union show resistant bacteria is increasing at an alarming rate.
However, many individual member states, and the EU as a whole, are using fewer antimicrobial products in animal health, despite EU farms buying less antimicrobial products.
A national call for action was delivered by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate this week.
The UK organisation called for a ‘move away’ from simply raising awareness, announcing a UK Antimicrobial Resistance Summit on Antibiotics Awareness Day – Tuesday 18 October.
Change should follow a ‘One-health’ approach, according to the European Platform for the Responsible Use of Medicines in Animals (EPRUMA).
This means thinking of both human and veterinary antibiotic use.
Moreover, commitment across stakeholders was called for by Federation of Veterinarians of Europe President Dr Christophe Buhot.
Describing veterinarians, dentists and doctors as “gatekeepers of the public health”, Dr Buhot, along with the FVE delivered a strong message of the need for responsible use of antibiotics.
This means applying the mantra of, “as little as possible, as much as necessary”, used by animal health company Zoetis this week to kick off its own responsible veterinary antibiotics campaign.
Responsibility is key to secure a “precious resource”, as dubbed by Zoetis executive vice president Alejandro Bernal.
On the role of vets in leading the livestock sector, he said they have a duty to protect livestock, using the right drugs when animals get sick.
This is why the “as much as necessary” element is important, he added.
Part of the Zoetis directive is for the “correct administration of products”, so that proper doses and treatment durations are followed to address infections.
Communicating ideas on antibiotic responsibility is an issue up for discussion, according to RUMA secretary general John FitzGerald.
He told TheBeefSite: “Our current mantra is use medicines “as little as possible and as much as necessary”.
“The dilemma is to try to help those who can have a practical effect e.g. doctors, vets, farmers etc to understand the seriousness of the problem and that they have a key role to play.”
Another phrase, “Replace, Reduce, Refine”, discussed at the Ceva roundtable on antibiotics earlier this year, is being advocated by animal welfare experts at the Food Animal Initiative in Oxford, UK.
The three R’s approach is hoped to deliver a message of how to approach the matter of lowering antimicrobial use on farm.