At a global level, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recognise that AMR is a serious issue that requires a united and practical response. In 2015, a global action plan aimed at tackling the issue of AMR was approved by the World Health Assembly. The main aim of this global action plan is to “ensure, for as long as possible, continuity of successful treatment and prevention of infectious diseases with effective and safe medicines that are quality-assured, used in a responsible way, and accessible to all who need them.” To achieve this following objectives have been set out:
- To improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance
- To strengthen knowledge through surveillance and research
- To reduce the incidence of infection
- To optimize the use of antimicrobial agents
- Develop the economic case for sustainable investment that takes account of the needs of all countries, and increase investment in new medicines, diagnostic tools, vaccines and other interventions
The OIE has recognised that antimicrobials are vital in protecting animal health and welfare and ensuring the availability of safe, humanely produced food. The OIE has therefore acted to tackle AMR, collaborating with Veterinary Services, livestock producers, and other stakeholders of the animal production industry to do so. Four objectives have been put forward by OIE to help support Member States in tackling AMR. These objectives are:
- Improve awareness and understanding
- Strengthen knowledge through surveillance and research
- Support good governance and capacity building
- Encourage implementation of international standards
At a national level, Ireland published it’s first “One Health” National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (iNAP). The purpose of iNAP is to tackle the serious and increasing threat of AMR in Ireland. The “One Health” strategy recognises that the health of humans, the health of animals and the health of the environment are all interconnected and are all, in some ways, contributing to AMR. Given the serious health threat posed by AMR, a common understanding of AMR, and the need for a “One Health” approach to tackle it, is of fundamental importance.
iNAP aims to build upon the actions already being taken by each sector regarding AMR, with the overall goal being to reduce the quantities of antibiotics being used. This is to be achieved by using antimicrobials only when absolutely needed and by reducing the demand for antimicrobials in the first place by reducing the spread of infection and disease. This will help slow the rate at which resistance develops, maintain the effectiveness of existing antibiotics and potentially help some antibiotics to recover their effectiveness.
iNAP outlines five strategic objectives and over ninety actions to tackle the threat of AMR. Completion of these actions and achieving these objectives requires a co-ordinated multi-stakeholder involvement.
The five strategic objectives set out in iNAP include:
- Improve awareness and knowledge of antimicrobial resistance
- Enhance surveillance of antibiotic resistance and antibiotic use
- Reduce the spread of infection and disease
- Optimise the use of antibiotics in human and animal health
- Promote research and sustainable investment in new medicines, diagnostic tools, vaccines and other interventions.
An iNAP Animal Health Implementation Committee was set up to oversee the completion of the animal Health actions outlined in iNAP. This committee consists of various animal health stakeholders - Animal Health Ireland (AHI), Animal and Plant Health Association (APHA), Bord Bia, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS), Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Irish Grain and Feed Association (IGFA), Meat Industry Ireland (MII), Safefood, Teagasc, University College Dublin (UCD), Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) and Veterinary Ireland (VI). The projects outlined in the Animal Health Implementation Plan were developed collectively by these stakeholders who will work together to ensure they are achieved.