All antibiotics sold for animal treatment in the UK are prescription-only, and can only be prescribed by fully qualified veterinary surgeons. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate regulates the use of medicines – including antibiotics – in farm animals, and publishes sales data for antimicrobials annually. Latest available indications for the relative use of antibiotics in animals and humans in the UK is via the One Health Report, indicating around 64% of antibiotics are used in humans, 3.5% in companion animals, 26% in farm animals, and a further 10% split between farm and companion animals.
Because of their responsibility for prescribing medicines, vets have taken a lead in promoting the responsible use of antibiotics in companion animals and livestock in the UK. Ongoing work by vets, farmers, and industry has already led to significant reductions in sales of antibiotics for use in food-producing animals. There is a clear focus on maintaining this momentum.
Alongside the new policy position, BVA launched a redesigned poster outlining a 7-point plan for responsible use of antibiotics by veterinary practices, as well as graphics for social media.
BVA has produced a plethora of tools which have been made available to vets to help them fight against antibiotic resistance. This includes a series of antibiotic use MythBusters and a video explaining a vets’ role in tackling AMR
A One health approach has been central to the veterinary professions approach to antibiotic resistance. BVA established the One Health Coordination Group, which brings together representatives from BVA and BVA specialist divisions including the Veterinary Public Health Association (VPHA) as well as BVNA, BMA, RCN, BDA, and the Wildlife Trusts.
The BVA launched a first of its kind, a ‘One Health in Action’ report to mark One Health Day on 3 November 2019. The report, borne of the Vet Futures and VN Futures projects, provides a series of case studies of how One Health can, and has, been applied to ‘real world’ situations for the benefit of human, animal and environmental health. Three antibiotic resistance cases are included from BVA, British Dental Association, and APHA and VMD.
BVA led an effort to design a One Health poster that could be placed in both vets’ and doctors’ practice waiting rooms. The design process was characterised by a unified, partnership approach by veterinary and human healthcare organisations — BVA, BMA, Public Health England, and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate — coming together around the shared imperative of tackling antibiotic resistance. The ‘Are you antibiotic aware?’ poster conveys six top tips on responsible antibiotic use and is a first in targeting these messages to both human patients and animal owners.
The poster was launched to mark European Antibiotic Awareness Day in November 2016. BVA took the further step of distributing the poster to all BVA members and encouraged vets and vet nurses to make share the poster with their local medical GP practice. This One Health initiative was shortlisted for an Antibiotic Guardian Award in 2017.
As the UK leaves the EU, this could present opportunities for the UK to negotiate new trade deals. BVA has urged the government to secure the inclusion of equally high standards of responsible antibiotic use all trade agreements it negotiates. This has been highlighted in its consultation response to the Department for International Trade.