Farming News - RUMA responds to the 2019 One Health antibiotics report

RUMA responds to the 2019 One Health antibiotics report

31 Jan 2019
Frontdesk / Livestock

RUMA ( Responsible use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance ) has today welcomed the “UK One Health Report: antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance in animals and humans” report published today (31 January), a long-awaited review of how human and veterinary medicine in the UK have progressed since 2013 on the One Health challenge of antimicrobial resistance.

Two cows looking at the camera with yellow tags in their ears.

In farming, cutting the risk of resistance developing within veterinary medicine is a primary goal as we need to preserve the antibiotics we have to ensure we can continue to treat disease and – in doing so – safeguard animal health and welfare and food safety.

However, we also need to ensure that risk to human health arising from the use of antibiotics in farm animals is kept to a minimum.

We are pleased by the progress in both these areas from measures introduced to improve stewardship, pioneered by the poultry meat sector in 2012 and implemented progressively by other sectors from 2015 onwards.

This has resulted in a 35% reduction in total tonnes of antibiotics sold for use in all UK animals, which includes farm animals, pets and horses, and a halving in use of highest priority Critically Important Antibiotics (HP-CIAs).

This means that in 2013, 45% of antibiotics in the UK were used to treat all animals. In 2017, it fell to 36%. Overall, 26% of total tonnes used in people and animals was specifically for food-producing animals. Furthermore, out of the total tonnes of HP-CIAs used to treat diseases in humans and animals, 22% was used in animals in 2013 and 11% in 2017.

The result is that when tonnage is corrected by bodyweight of humans and animals, the use of antibiotics was higher in humans than in food-producing animals with 123mg/kg and 37mg/kg respectively. Both sectors have reduced their use between 2013 and 2017, by 9% in people and 40% in food producing animals.

As the main objective of lowering antibiotic use is to reduce the opportunities for resistance to develop, it is also good news that overall the report shows we are seeing a reduction in the level of resistance to critical antibiotics in zoonotic bacteria from food-producing animals and retail meat.

There is more to do, including delivering the sector-specific targets set by industry by 2020, but this report will be well-received by the farming sectors as it shows that their efforts are bearing fruit.

Professor Peter Borriello, CEO of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, said:

"A key priority for the UK government is to protect human and animal health by minimising the development and spread of antibiotic resistance. Our total combined use of antibiotics in humans and animals dropped by 19% between 2013 and 2017, and represented falls for both animal (35%) and human (6%) medicine. Overall, there was a reduction in resistance to critical antibiotics.

I am pleased to see our progress presented in this second One Health report, which provides valuable information for us to use to progress further in tackling the threat of AMR together."