UK-VARSS report shows the power of working together to reduce the need for antibiotics

NOAH has welcomed the latest annual Veterinary Antibiotic Resistance Sales and Surveillance (UK-VARSS) report, published by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). This showed sales of antibiotics for use in food-producing animals as having reduced by 53% in just four years between 2014 – 2018 and is a sign of the commitment of those involved with producing food from animals to playing their part in tackling AMR.

“These results demonstrate the power of working together,” explains NOAH chief executive Dawn Howard. “Much work has been done through RUMA, the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance, and NOAH has been involved with its Targets Task Force. Our particular focus has been on the development of our AMBP (Animal Medicines Best Practice) training programme, launched last year and proving to be a really useful tool for farmers and vets, particularly since it is now a way for dairy farmers to be compliant with recent Red Tractor dairy standards changes. 

“It is also encouraging to see, in parallel with the reduction in need for antibiotics, a parallel rise in vaccination of cattle and sheep, to one of the highest levels in seven years. We believe this shows farmers understand better the role good welfare and husbandry plays in helping reduce the risk of disease spread, and therefore the need for antibiotic treatments. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that, when animals suffer from bacterial infections, it is responsible that a vet prescribes the appropriate antibiotic to protect their health and welfare,” she said.

While these figures demonstrate excellent progress, there is still work to do. “NOAH will be leading the #VaccinesWork campaign this autumn, not only promoting the benefits of vaccination but also giving tips to ensure that vaccines are stored and used correctly to ensure that they retain their full efficacy.

“We will also be using the opportunity of European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18 November to explain how our industry is united in action to promote better health and a reduced need for antibiotics,” Dawn added. “The prevention of disease wherever possible will have major animal health and welfare benefits and will also help to ensure that antibiotics remain effective in the future.”

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.