England’s chief medical officer has warned of a “post-antibiotic apocalypse” as she urged world leaders to address the real threat of antibiotic resistance.
Prof Dame Sally Davies said that if antibiotics lose their effectiveness it would spell “the end of modern medicine”
Health experts have previously warned that resistance to antimicrobial drugs could cause a bigger threat to mankind than cancer.
The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) has welcomed the picture painted by chief medical officer Dame Davies. She was speaking at a global ‘Superbugs’ conference held in Berlin on Friday (13 October).
RUMA Secretary General John Fitzgerald said it is “critical” the issue of antibiotic resistance and drug resistant infections is raised at every opportunity.
“It is a One Health problem that affects all of us – the public, doctors, vets, animal keepers – and we can all play a part in tackling it,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
“We are expecting further reductions when the sales data from 2016 is released by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate later this month,” Mr Fitzgerald added.
Furthermore, each livestock sector has been working on setting its own targets for reducing, refining or replacing antibiotics.
The results will be released at the RUMA conference on 27 October.
Mr Fitzgerald continued: “We all accept that action in farming is one part of the solution, and are very pleased with the engagement from UK livestock sectors.
“While there is a moral duty to act, farmers are also realising that we will not have access to any new antibiotics to treat animal disease and safeguard animal welfare – these will all be directed to human medicine. So we have a very strong motivation to protect the efficacy of the antibiotics we do have.”
The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics campaign group has called on the UK government to make sure the Great Repeal Bill protects EU standards on farm antibiotic use.
The group is calling on the government to ensure that its Repeal Bill fully converts EU legislation controlling farm antibiotic use into UK law.
RUMA said it wants to stress that the situation in the UK is “very different”, with fewer antibiotics used in farming than in many parts of the world, and no antibiotic growth promotion permitted.
“All antibiotics must be prescribed by a vet and used only to treat or prevent the spread of disease to maintain the health and welfare of the animal,” Mr Fitzgerald explained.
Between 2014 and 2015, sales of antibiotics for farm animals fell 10 percent.
Indeed, the British poultry sector has published figures showing a 71% reduction in antibiotic usage over a four-year period.
Standards to help producers cut down on antibiotic use among livestock have been detailed on new Red Tractor farm standards ready for October.