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Minister McConalogue welcomes progress in relation to Antimicrobial Resistance in animals and the farm environment

The Minister for Agriculture in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., is pleased to launch the Report of the iNAP Animal Health Implementation Committee (AHIC) which outlines the progress achieved to date in delivering the actions contained in Ireland’s first National Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance 2017-2020 (iNAP) both in the animal health and environment sectors.


Launching the report the Minister said: “This report highlights the considerable progress that has been made in Ireland in the last three years to address the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), specifically in the area of animal health and our shared environment. All members of the animal health committee have shown proactive engagement and leadership, and a willingness to work in a collaborative way to deliver the many actions that were included in this first action plan.”


He added “The establishment of the iNAP Animal Health Implementation Committee in 2018 has been fundamental in facilitating multidisciplinary collaborative efforts across key stakeholders in the animal health and environmental sectors. I commend the initiative and dedication shown in progressing the Animal Health actions outlined in this report. The principles and actions contained in this action plan align well with a number of Departmental  policies including Ireland’s National Biosecurity Strategy,  Ireland’s Animal Welfare Strategy and Ireland’s National Farmed Animal Health Strategy, with one of it’s key enabling principles being ‘Prevention is Better than Cure’”.


The Minister went on to say “the spread of AMR is one of the greatest global public health challenges of our time – resulting in increased health care costs, hospital admissions, treatment failure, severe illness and death. The current global pandemic has underlined our dependence on the availability of effective disease treatments options. The misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in both human and animal health is accelerating  the development and spread of AMR globally.”


The Minister concluded by saying that” Our first National Action plan has provided a very successful platform to implement policies and actions to prevent, monitor and combat AMR across the health, agricultural and environmental sectors using a One Health approach. Such a coordinated approach is viewed by the European Union and the World Health Association as being critical to tackling this complex issue.  This report outlines the progress made and the actions delivered, which provides a solid foundation from which to continue to on our ambition to address AMR. Collaborative actions enhance the health and wellbeing outcomes on Irish farms for farm families as well as being vital to the continued health of our society and economy.”


Work is currently underway to finalise the next iteration of Ireland’s National Action Plan on AMR (2021-2025) which will be launched later this year.


Notes for Editors


What is AMR?

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is resistance of a microorganism to a drug that was originally effective for treatment of infections caused by that microorganism. Resistant microorganisms (including bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites) are able to withstand attack by antimicrobial drugs, such as antibacterial drugs (e.g., antibiotics), antifungals, antivirals, and antimalarials, so that standard treatments become ineffective and infections persist, increasing the risk of spread to others.

The evolution of resistant strains is a natural phenomenon that occurs when microorganisms replicate themselves erroneously or when resistant traits are exchanged between them. The use and misuse of antimicrobial drugs accelerates the emergence of drug-resistant strains. Poor infection control practices, inadequate sanitary conditions and inappropriate food handling encourage the further spread of AMR.



What is the effect of AMR?

A European Centre for Disease Control/European Medicines Agency (ECDC/EMEA) 2009 Report estimated that in 2007 drug-resistant bacteria were responsible for about 25,000 human deaths per annum in the EU alone, with associated healthcare costs and productivity losses of €1.5bn. The Report also stated that approx. 4 million patients are estimated to acquire a healthcare associated infection in the EU every year.  (ECDC JOINT TECHNICAL REPORT 'The Bacterial Challenge: time to react' (2009)).


What does ‘One Health’ mean?

The 'One Health' concept is a worldwide strategy for expanding interdisciplinary collaborations and communications in all aspects of health care for humans, animals and the environment.  Recognising that human health, animal health and ecosystem health are inextricably linked, ‘One Health’ seeks to promote, improve and defend the health and well-being of all species by enhancing cooperation and collaboration between physicians, veterinarians, other scientific health and environmental professionals and by promoting strengths in leadership and management to achieve these goals.


There is international consensus through the ‘One Health’ Initiative to which the WHO (World Health Organisation), FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) and the OIE (World Health Organisation for Animal Health) are signatories, that tackling the global public health threat of AMR requires action across human and animal health sectors, agriculture and the wider environment. 

The multi-sector harmonisation of strategies and measures to address the challenge of AMR are necessary at a global, regional, and national level. There has been global intersectoral collaboration since 2010, with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) establishing tripartite actions to coordinate strategies to ensure antimicrobials maintain their efficacy, and are used responsibly.  These agencies are signatories to a ‘One Health’ worldwide initiative.


The European Commission has also promoted a holistic and multi-sectoral approach involving many groups such as the public health, food safety, animal health and welfare, research and innovation, bio-safety and environment sectors. The EU at both Council and Parliament levels has developed its Community Strategy against AMR having regard to the ‘One Health’ concept.


At a national level the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) of the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, respectively, established the National Interdepartmental Antimicrobial Resistance Consultative Committee in 2014 as part of the ‘One Health‘ initiative, and to advance a holistic national approach in working together to ensure that effective antibiotics remain available into the future.


The Committee is co-chaired by the CMO and CVO and has a clear role and mandate across the human and animal health sectors.  Committee membership consists of representatives of both Departments, relevant HSE agencies, EPA, HPRA, FSAI and other key stakeholder groupings in the human and animal health sectors.


What is the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Action Plan 2015?

In May 2015, delegates at the World Health Assembly endorsed a global action plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance - including antibiotic resistance, the most urgent drug resistance trend.

The plan sets out 5 Strategic Objectives:

  1.        Improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance;
  2.        Strengthen surveillance and research;
  3.        Reduce the incidence of infection;
  4.        Optimize the use of antimicrobial medicines;
  5.        Ensure sustainable investment in countering antimicrobial resistance.

The WHO called on member countries to develop their own national action plans on antimicrobial resistance in line with the Global Action Plan.


What are the other developments at the international level in relation to AMR?

In June 2016, the European Council adopted a set of conclusions in relation to AMR entitled ‘The next steps under a ‘One Health’ approach to combat antimicrobial resistance’.  The Council called on Member States to develop national action plans in line with the WHO Action Plan.


In September 2016, the UN General Assembly adopted a Political Declaration on Antimicrobial Resistance which reaffirmed that the blueprint for tackling AMR is the WHO Global Action Plan on AMR and its five overarching strategic objectives. The General Assembly reaffirmed countries commitments to produce national action plans based on the five strategic objectives in the WHO Action Plan.


In June 2017 the European Commission published its second AMR action plan entitled 'A European One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)'. This second action plan builds on the political commitment and actions achieved by the first EU action plan (2011-2016). The overarching goal of the new plan is to preserve the efficacy of antimicrobials so that they remain effective disease treatment options for humans and animals into the future. The plan outlines a range of activities under three strategic headings as follows:


  1. Making the EU a best practice region
  2. Boosting research, development and innovation in order to better control the spread of AMR
  3. Strengthening the role of the EU on the global stage to drive actions to address AMR in the context of the ‘One Health’ approach

The Plan provides a 'framework for continued, coherent and more extensive action to tackle AMR'.


iNAP is Ireland's response to international calls to produce a multisectoral action plan to tackle AMR.  Ireland is fully committed to and engaged in addressing resolution of the problem of AMR.  We will continue to collaborate at international, EU and national levels to this end. 



Ireland’s National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance 2017 – 2020 is available at:



Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine AMR webpage available at