Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to modern medicine, and it is vital that urgent action is taken to keep antibiotics effective for future generations.
The Government has repeatedly promoted the responsible use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine. It has worked closely with the farming industry and the veterinary profession, publishing its five-year strategy to tackle antimicrobial resistance in 2013. In addition to that, the Government launched a further 5-year action plan in 2019, as well as a 20-year vision for how the UK will contribute to containing and controlling antimicrobial resistance by 2040.
It is very promising that UK sales in antibiotics for food-producing animals was reduced by 53% between 2014 and 2018. This reduction stands as a testament to the improvements industry and the veterinary profession have made in antibiotic stewardship, training and disease control. This stands as a clear example of how real change can be achieved when Government and industry work together. It is important that we commend our farmers and vets for setting an excellent example for others around the world to follow.
A further target has been set to reduce UK antibiotic use in food-producing animals by 25% between 2016 and 2020 through implementation of agreed industry targets, with new objectives for each animal sector being set by 2021. I firmly believe that long term sector-specific reduction targets focused on the principle that ‘prevention is better than cure’, are important in helping to bring sustainable change across the agricultural industry. I have been reassured by my Ministerial colleagues in Government that they will continue to emphasise to the veterinary and farming communities that routine preventative use of antibiotics is wholly unacceptable.
10th May 2020