Published: 30 Apr 2020 | Last Updated: 10 Aug 2023 10:26:44

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) together with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s Policy Innovation and Evaluation Research Unit (LSHTM PIRU) has published an evaluation study on the Government’s Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) Strategy from 2013-2018.

The Government’s strategy aims to slow the development of AMR which allows microorganisms to survive and thrive in the presence of antimicrobial drugs (like antibiotics), increasing the proliferation of infection and disease in both humans and animals.

This study assessed the implementation of the Strategy in human and animal health across the UK, and with the interim findings provided to the Department of Health and Social Care in 2018, contributed to the formal review and revision of the Government’s AMR Strategy with the aim of strengthening the implementation of future AMR policy.

The research evaluated the national and local implementation of the Strategy, the use of data to effect change in behaviour, implementation of the Strategy and evidence of effectiveness in the food chain, challenges to innovation in the biopharma industry, progress on international work outlined in the Strategy, and the role of patients and the public in implementation of the Strategy.

Leading the animal health study, a group of researchers from the RVC led by Prof. Katharina Staerk, Dr Barbara Haesler, and Dr Ana Mateus, studied the effectiveness of prudent antimicrobial use policies in the animal sector, how antimicrobial use and AMR are managed in the animal source food chain and conducted case studies for companion animals, pigs and poultry.

The study found that by adopting a One Health approach, the Strategy has instilled a shared sense of responsibility for tackling AMR across the human and animal health sectors. While the transmission pathways between animals and humans are not fully understood, key findings from the study include:

  • Identifying the different stages in which the livestock sector is improving the way it uses antibiotics and records data, with some private industry groups and professional bodies demonstrating strong leadership in implementing the Strategy.
  • The potential value in longer consultation times for veterinarians, which will provide them with better opportunities to discuss prescribing antibiotics with pet owners.
  • The need for more data, over a longer period of time, to assess the impact of the guidelines and voluntary efforts to reduce the use of antibiotics in animals.
  • The need for greater collaboration with regards to the surveillance of AMR and the data on the use of antibiotics across animals and people, to allow for easier comparison in a One Health perspective.

Dr Barbara Haesler, Senior Lecturer in Agrihealth at the RVC, said: “At the RVC, we are always looking to use our expertise to demonstrate the vital importance of understanding the close relationship between human and animal health. We were delighted to support our colleagues at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in this evaluation. It was encouraging to see progress in the collection and sharing of better AMR data since the launch of the Strategy, particularly in England.

“There are certainly still challenges ahead, and the RVC looks forward to working with our colleagues across academia and Government to identify the best way forward in the coming months and years, so that we can tackle the worrying possibility of widespread antimicrobial resistant head on.”

Professor Nicholas Mays, Director of the Policy Innovation and Evaluation Research Unit at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “There is great and urgent need to reduce inappropriate use of antibiotics in humans and animals because of its link to AMR.  The issue of appropriate use of antibiotics remains important even during the current COVID-19 pandemic since antibiotics are being widely used to treat secondary infections associated with the COVID-19 virus. 

"As well as highlighting the progress we have made in AMR data reporting, our research found that rapidly and cheaply distinguishing bacterial infections from viral infections in routine human and animal care still remains a challenge.  We are delighted to have worked closely with RVC to highlight key areas of this complex problem."

The RVC’s collaboration with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine reflects the RVC’s ongoing commitment to One Health, which recognises the connections between human and animal health and the environment.

For more information about the study see Evaluation of the implementation of the UK AMR Strategy at LSHTM PIRU.

Notes to Editors

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About the RVC

  • The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a Member Institution of the University of London.
  • It was the first in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC.
  • The RVC is the top veterinary school in the UK and Europe, and ranked as the world’s second highest veterinary school in the QS World University Rankings by subject, 2020.
  • The RVC offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences.
  • In 2017, the RVC received a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – the highest rating a university can receive.
  • A research led institution with 79% of its research rated as internationally excellent or world class in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
  • The RVC provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals and first opinion practices in London and Hertfordshire.

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