Minister McConalogue launches Code of Good Practice for Responsible Use of Antimicrobials on Suckler and Beef farms on European Antibiotic Awareness day
Collective approach needed to tackle AMR
The Minister for Agriculture in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., has launched the Code of Good Practice regarding the responsible use of antimicrobials on suckler and beef farms. The launch coincides with the start of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, which runs from 18th to the 24th November.
Launching the Code the Minister said ‘‘this Code of Good Practice will serve as a valuable reference for beef and suckler farmers as they work to address the ‘One Health’ challenge of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).’’ He emphasised that the practical strategies outlined in this document highlight some of the important actions that beef and suckler farmers can take to reduce their overall use of antibiotics and to improve their herd health.
The Minister welcomed the timely launch today of the Code on European Antibiotic Awareness Day which is an annual event, and a means of highlighting the continued global concern in relation to AMR. He commented that ‘‘AMR remains a challenge not just for human health, but also animal health, food security and our shared environment.’’
The Minister acknowledged that all stakeholders have an important role in addressing this One Health issue, and as part of today’s launch he particularly wanted to thank the extensive work and collaboration between the Irish Farmers Association, Veterinary Ireland and Teagasc.
The Minister stated that ‘‘under the chairmanship of the Animal and Plant Health Association, the Irish Farmers Association, Veterinary Ireland and Teagasc have developed a useful tool for suckler and beef farmers to support the agri-food sector’s work to address AMR.’’
The Minister referenced the continued engagement of stakeholders to address AMR across the human health, animal health, and environment sectors at a One Health level. He commended the collaborative leadership shown, and actions taken, under Ireland’s national action plan to address AMR (iNAP).
He said the he hoped ‘‘the working in partnership would continue into the development and iteration of the next version of iNAP, and the implementation of future sector specific actions supported by the iNAP animal health sector implementation committee, which is chaired by the chief veterinary officer Dr Martin Blake.’’
The Minister concluded by stating that “in order to successfully address AMR the primary goal of the agri-food sector must be to reduce antibiotic usage through maintaining the highest possible standards in animal health, and I would urge our stakeholders to take part in the upcoming Animal Health Awareness Week during which all stakeholders will gain information on how to safeguard their herds and flocks, and the national animal health status of our animals. It is important to understand that we all have a role to play, and a vested interest in addressing the development and spread of AMR by informing ourselves and following best practice guidance.’’
The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine is also hosting a live webinar to mark European Antibiotic Awareness Day today at 2pm.
Notes for Editors:
What is European Antibiotic Awareness Day?
European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD) takes place on Wednesday 18 November 2020, in partnership with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (18 – 24 November 2020). EAAD aims to raise awareness about the threat to public health of antibiotic resistance and the importance of prudent antibiotic use. The latest data confirms that across the European Union the number of patients infected by resistant bacteria is increasing and that antibiotic resistance is a major threat to public health.
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.
Antibiotic resistance refers specifically to the resistance to antibiotics that occurs in common bacteria that cause infections. Antimicrobial resistance is a broader term, encompassing resistance to drugs to treat infections caused by other microbes as well. Antimicrobial resistance in this Code of Good Practice specifically refers to antibiotic resistance whereby an antibiotic is no longer effective to treat bacterial disease.
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.
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.
What is iNAP?
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:
The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine jointly developed and launched Ireland’s first ‘One Health’ National Action plan to address antimicrobial resistance, (iNAP) in conjunction with the Department of Health in 2017 and is currently working on a second action plan to commence in 2021. The two Departments have adopted a ‘One Health’ approach to AMR and encourage multidisciplinary collaborative efforts across different sectors such as health, agriculture and the environment to achieve the best health outcomes for people and animals.