Martin Blake, MVB MRCVS MBA, Chief Veterinary Officer, Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, described Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) as “the silent pandemic” at the Veterinary Ireland conference last week.
He told attendees that whilst there are no daily press conferences outlining numbers of cases and deaths, a recent publication from the Lancet on the global burden of AMR, reports that in 2019, AMR-associated deaths globally were estimated to have been 4.95 million.
He said this is in comparison to the WHO’s global estimation of 4.8 million Covid-19 associated deaths in 2020.
Blake stressed that this is why addressing Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in both the animal and human health sectors is one of the most “critical” objectives of the new European Veterinary Medicines regulations (Regulations EU 2019/6 and 2019/4).
Blake added that Ireland has already been “active” in seeking to address the challenge of AMR. He outlined that some of the new requirements introduce some additional constraints.
However, he added, “they also bring many benefits”. “The most important way of which is to reduce AMR by promoting prudent and responsible prescribing of antimicrobials, which will be measured and analysed at a national level through the new online National Veterinary Prescription System (NVPS).”
One World & One Health
Attendees also heard that One World & One Health action is needed to “keep the antibiotic show on the road”.
Professor Martin Cormican MB BCh BAO, National Clinical Lead for HCAI and AMR, Professor of Bacteriology, School of Medicine, University of Galway, said:
“Antibiotics transform and extend lives. We need antibiotics that work for people and animals. They prevent suffering, premature death and economic loss.”
Professor Cormican said that antibiotic resistance is making it progressively more difficult and more costly to prevent and treat infection.
“In people and in animals, we are using more or less the same set of antibiotics. We need to make what we have last.”
“Moreover, we know what will work to slow or stop antibiotic resistance. We will use fewer antibiotics in all sectors if we prevent infection with hygiene, sanitation and vaccination.”
“We will use fewer antibiotics if we get better at diagnosis of infections that antibiotics do not work for. When we need antibiotics, we can use them better.”
Professor Cormican stressed that the world is so connected by travel and trade that no sector and no country can “hold back this tide on its own”.
“We need more One World & One Health action,” concluded Professor Cormican.