Fighting antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the AVA's three strategic priorities.
Antibiotic resistance is a global concern, and the veterinary profession is working alongside human health professionals to address the issue.
Veterinarians rely on antibiotics to treat animals and prevent suffering in pets, livestock and other animals. It is critical that they are able to retain access to the essential medications they need, for the protection of animal health and welfare.
Australian veterinarians are trained and experienced in the principles of judicious antimicrobial use. As a result, Australian animals have low levels of antibiotic resistance in their bacterial fauna, compared to other countries.
In 2015, the Australian Government released its first ever national strategy to combat antimicrobial resistance. It included a number of priorities for action relating to antibiotic use in animals, as well as issues relating to veterinary practice such as infection prevention and control. The AVA is an active participant in the national One Health initiatives and the implementation of the national strategy.
In 2018, an Animal Sector National AMR Plan was developed under the leadership of the Australian CVO, Dr Mark Schipp, to support the National AMR Strategy. AVA was part of the Focus Group who assisted with the development of the AMR Plan.
AVA's work in the fight against AMR
There are several streams to the program – antibiotic prescribing guidelines, antimicrobial stewardship, community awareness, and the national One Health policy agenda.
Antibiotic prescribing guidelines
In 2017 the AVA embarked on a joint project with Animal Medicines Australia, to develop best-practice prescribing guidelines for horses and livestock species. We are approximately half-way through this major undertaking. Guidelines that have been developed so far are:
- Antimicrobial Prescribing Guidelines for Pigs
- Antimicrobial Prescribing Guidelines for Poultry
- AVA-AMA Antimicrobial Prescribing Guidelines - Sheep.pdf
- AVA-AMA Antimicrobial prescribing guidelines for dairy cattle.pdf
- Further guidelines will follow.
Evidence-based prescribing guidelines already exist for dogs and cats (AIDAP prescribing guidelines). In 2016, AVA coordinated a pilot trial of an antimicrobial stewardship program with companion animal practices in Canberra. This idea was at the instigation of two Canberra practitioners and was supported by a small working group of staff and volunteers. Results of the trial will be published in due course.
AVA has participated in Antibiotic Awareness Week since 2012 and has been represented on the national organising committee since 2013. This will continue as a way of helping increase understanding about antibiotic use and resistance in animals among animal owners and human health professionals.
One Health policy agenda
AVA is represented on the Australian Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (ASTAG), and this group has been monitoring the implementation plan for the National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2015-2019. The implementation plan includes a number of key projects and concerns recommended by AVA. A new plan will be developed shortly, and the AVA will make contributions into this process.
In 2018, the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Mark Shipp, developed a National AMR Plan for the Animal Sector, and AVA was part of the focus group for this important process.
Commentary on the discussion paper Developing a national antimicrobial resistance strategy for Australia - Department of Health, 7 November 2014
Inquiry into the progress in the implementation of the ecommendations of the 1999 Joint Expert Technical Advisory Committee on Antibiotic Resistance (JETACAR) Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration - 15 February 2013