The newly published UK five-year antimicrobial-resistance strategy calls for action in both human and animal medicine under the banner of "One Health." The strategy follows the UK chief medical officer's March 2013 report, which highlighted the threat of antimicrobial resistance.
The strategy has been published jointly by the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the UK Department of Health, the Scottish government, the Welsh government and the Northern Ireland executive.
Seven key areas for future action are outlined in the strategy:
- Improving infection prevention and control practices
- Optimizing prescribing practice
- Improving education, training and public engagement
- Developing new drugs, treatments and diagnostics
- Better access to and use of surveillance
- Better identification and prioritization of antimicrobial resistance research needs
- Strengthened international collaboration
It also details specific actions to be taken by each sector of medicine.
The strategy acknowledges that scientific evidence increasingly suggests the clinical issues with antimicrobial resistance in humans are primarily the result of antibiotic use in people, but the use of antibiotics in animals is an important factor contributing to the wider pool of resistance.
The strategy outlines actions already taken within the veterinary profession, including the detailed guidelines on responsible use of antimicrobials in animals, as well as the introduction of a requirement in the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Code of Professional Conduct for veterinarians to use antimicrobials responsibly.
"Antimicrobial resistance is indeed one of the most significant threats to animal and human health, and we fully support the aims of the UK strategy," said Peter Jones, president of the British Veterinary Association. "We have 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.
"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 recognize 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," said Jones.