New UK plan aims to reduce antibiotic misuse and drive AMR innovation

10 May 2024 | Muriel Cozier

As the UK launches a new plan to tackle AMR, the global poultry industry endorses reduced use of antibiotics.

A national five-year action plan supporting the UK government’s 20-year vision to contain and control antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by 2040 has been launched.

The new plan aims to build on progress made in the previous five-year plan, incorporating lessons learned from the covid-19 pandemic. It sets ‘ambitious targets to drive down inappropriate use of antibiotics and stimulate further development of new drugs and vaccines’.

This latest plan has nine ‘strategic outcomes’ organised under four themes. These are: reducing the need for and unintentional exposure to antimicrobials; ensuring they are used only when needed; investing in innovation; and maintaining the UK’s role as an international leader in AMR. In 2022 the UK government invested £210 million to partner with countries across Asia and Africa to tackle AMR and reduce the threat posed to the UK.

The news follows a recent report from the WHO which indicated that antibiotics were over-prescribed for patients hospitalised by covid-19. The report noted that 75% of patients were treated with antibiotics ‘just in case they helped’. It is estimated that in 2019, 1.27 million deaths worldwide were caused by antibiotic-resistant infections.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said: ‘AMR is not just a matter for clinicians – it is important to work across sectors to help persevere these vital medicines to minimise the impact of AMR.’

In a separate development a total of 26 organisations from around the world are now endorsing science-based antimicrobial use stewardship principles that promote the health of poultry and avoids the use of antimicrobials. Seven associations from across Europe have recently joined the existing 19 members.

The project is part of the United States Agency of International Development’s Transformational Strategies for Farm Output Risk Mitigation, which is led by Cargill and was launched in 2021. The antimicrobial use stewardship principles were developed by the International Poultry Council to drive global change throughout the animal and agriculture industry, by guiding actions to ensure the proper use of antimicrobials. The 26 organisations, which includes the British Poultry Council, represent over 40% of global poultry meat production.

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