THIS week is antibiotic awareness week which provides an opportunity for us to consider the important role that these products play in keeping us healthy and the actions we all need to take to help preserve their effectiveness.
It’s also timely to mention Animal Medicines Australia members have committed to several important actions to help address antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to support the federal government’s First National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy.
AMA members also encourage the government to extend its investment in human health surveillance programs to bacteria of animal origin.
Like us, our livestock, dogs, cats and horses can all suffer from infections and diseases caused by bacteria.
Many of these diseases and infections can only be managed or treated through prudent use of antimicrobials.
Animal Medicines Australia members, representing the global leaders of the animal health industry, take their responsibility to help preserve the effectiveness of antimicrobials seriously and have committed to the following actions to combat the development of resistance.
Each of these actions supports the objectives of the government’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2015-2019.
Antibiotics are key to treating infections in humans and animals – there are no alternatives to treating life-threatening bacterial infections.
The world has recognised that AMR is a challenge that costs lives.
AMA members are working to ensure that veterinary antibiotics retain their value as a therapeutic tool to support animal health and welfare and to ensure safe and sustainable food production.
The treatment of bacterial infections with the right antibiotics, using the correct dose and through the appropriate pathway, improves quality of life, reduces health costs, reduces hospitalisations and saves lives for both animals and humans
AMA’s actions and stewardship activities are consistent with the National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2015-2019.
Developing antibiotic prescribing guidelines for cattle, pigs, horses, sheep and chickens in partnership with the Australian Veterinary Association which will complement existing prescribing guidelines for our cats and dogs
• Partnering with the global organisation HealthforAnimals to develop the “Animal Health Sector Commitments and Actions on Antibiotic Use”
• Expanding industry information and communication materials to ensure that users have the information they need to use antibiotic products responsibly and judiciously.
More work still needs to be done. Australia needs a comprehensive antimicrobial resistance surveillance system that will complement existing systems in place for humans.
AMA is calling for all stakeholders, including governments, veterinarians, livestock industries and others to cooperate to develop a comprehensive AMR surveillance scheme for animals in Australia
We also encourage pet owners and others to follow label directions and the directions of their veterinarian when using antibiotic products for their animals’ health.
AMA along with our member organisations are walking the talk, not just talking the talk.
Health Minister Greg Hunt and Assistant Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Luke Hartsuyker also acknowledged Antibiotic Awareness Week as a timely reminder for all Australians to take action to stop the overuse of antibiotics.
It said AMR occurs when microorganisms like bacteria that cause infections resist the effects of the medicines used to treat them, such as antibiotics.
The main cause of antibiotic resistance is antibiotic use - the more we use antibiotics, the more chance bacteria have to develop resistance to them.
As a result of antibiotic resistance, standard medical and veterinary treatments may become ineffective and infections may persist and spread to others.
The Turnbull government also launched a new online resource for industry and the community as part of ongoing work to tackle the rise of antimicrobial resistance.
The new AMR website has information for the community, health professionals, animal health professionals, farmers, animal owners and the broader agriculture industry.
AMR has both a health and economic impact with infections requiring more complex and expensive treatments, longer hospital stays, and it can lead to more deaths.
The Turnbull Government is investing more than $27 million to help tackle the rise of AMR – including $5.9 million from the landmark Medical Research Future Fund.