At the 84th General Session of the World Assembly of National Delegates, the OIE presented to its Members, and proposed for adoption, the basic principles of its new strategy to fight antimicrobial resistance. Built on the foundations of many years’ work by the Organisation to protect the effectiveness of antimicrobials used in veterinary medicine, and to contribute towards maintaining the efficacy of the molecules used in human medicine, this strategy aims to provide countries with the necessary tools to assist them in managing this problem more effectively, regardless of their actual animal health situation.
Scanning electron micrograph of neutrophil ingesting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. © NIAID
The increasing occurrence and spread of bacterial resistance against antimicrobials reported in recent years is today considered a major risk by the international community, requiring commitment from the whole of society. Antimicrobial resistance is indeed a challenge, endangering human health, animal health and also animal welfare.
Aware of this major issue facing future generations, the OIE has worked for many years on the subject, in particular by developing dedicated international standards that were revised in 2015. The OIE has also taken part in the development and implementation of the WHO Global action plan against antimicrobial resistance.
However, these international initiatives, although endorsed by the Member Countries of various organisations, can only fully bear fruit if they are carried out effectively in these countries.
According to an OIE study, in more than 110 of the 130 countries questioned, there is a lack of comprehensive and relevant legislation regulating the conditions for import, manufacture, distribution and use of veterinary medicines, including antimicrobials. Consequently, these products are often freely sold and their use is unsupervised by animal health professionals. The lack of quality controls for these products is also a cause for concern indeed, a study in 2012 showed that, in more than 22% of countries with legislation on veterinary medicines, quality control of such medicines had not been included in the legislation.
The implementation of international standards and recommendations requires substantial effort at national level, where the actual situation on the ground is sometimes restrictive, due often to the absence of adapted legislation, underfunded Veterinary Services and the existence of parallel markets which are outside the control of health authorities.
Therefore, true to its values of international solidarity, today the OIE presented its Member Countries with the basic principles of its strategy to assist them at national level to, step by step, prepare a legal framework and build the necessary capacity to manage the problem of antimicrobial resistance more effectively.
Implementing this strategy will enable countries to benefit from the series of measures developed by the OIE, in accordance with its mandate, to assist them in carrying out the following actions:
- regulate the manufacture, circulation and use of antimicrobials in animals, according to international standards;
- train animal health professionals;
- communicate to raise awareness among stakeholders;
- avail high-quality products and their alternative;
- ensure veterinary supervision of antimicrobial use in animal health to make sure that they are used prudently and responsibly;
- monitor antimicrobial use and the development of resistance.
In fact, in addition to its international standards and network of scientific expertise, the OIE avails – particularly to its Member Countries – multiple tools to build national capacity in order to achieve better governance of animal health and, as a result, better management of veterinary medicines. The PVS Pathway, a tool to improve the performance of Veterinary Services, is a particularly important part of this support, with modules specifically dedicated to veterinary legislation, veterinary education and laboratory capacity.
The creation and management of a database to gather information on the use of antimicrobial agents in animals, as well as the development of performance indicators, is also under way to assist countries towards increased information flow and transparency in their use of antimicrobials. Meanwhile, the network of OIE experts will be working to reinforce scientific knowledge, especially on new technologies and replacement solutions for current antimicrobial agents.
Finally, the OIE will continue to support its Members as they raise awareness on the issue of antimicrobial resistance, including in regard to animal health and disease prevention on the farm, to contribute to a reduction in the quantities of antimicrobials used. This support will be given by improving the communication skills of Veterinary Services and by producing a number of resource materials, available free of charge, to assist national communication campaigns, especially during the World Antibiotic Awareness Week.
After the detailed presentation this morning of a report on this issue by Dr Orand, Director of the OIE Collaborating Centre for Veterinary Medicines (ANSES, ANMV, France), a resolution endorsing the principles of this strategy will be presented at the General Session for adoption by the 180 National Delegates of the OIE.