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BVA welcomes refreshed RUMA Targets Task Force

The BVA has welcomed the establishment of a refreshed task force by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance to start defining new antibiotic reduction goals post-2020

25 September 2019, at 12:00pm

The original task force was formed in 2016 to identify targets for antibiotic use in UK farm livestock, following the O’Neill Review on antimicrobial resistance. The refreshed Targets Task Force has expanded from eight to ten livestock groups, with the introduction of calves as a focus area and the fish sector split into salmon and trout species. The task force is expected to agree and report new post-2020 antibiotic reduction targets before the end of next year.

James Russell, BVA Junior Vice President and BVA representative on the new RUMA Targets Task Force, said:

“We welcome the establishment of the refreshed RUMA task force to set post-2020 targets to further reduce, refine and replace antibiotic use in the UK’s farmed livestock.

“The original RUMA Targets Task Force and representatives of each of the eight livestock sectors have been hugely successful in reducing antibiotic usage, particularly the use of High Priority Critically Important Antibiotics (HP-CIA). We must maintain this momentum in the face of the ongoing global threat posed by antimicrobial resistance. Alongside target setting, a large part of the future changes will involve promoting high animal health and welfare through disease prevention strategies, such as improving uptake in vaccines.

“BVA is committed to providing continued leadership on the issue and will continue working with our specialist divisions, RUMA, the UK One Health Coordination Group, and other key stakeholders to build upon current achievements.

“A collaborative approach to AMR, underpinned by a commitment from each of us within the veterinary profession to maintain the highest standards of stewardship in using antimicrobials, especially Critically Important Antibiotics, is the only way we can preserve these essential medicines for both humans and animals in the future.”

Antimicrobial resistance remains a key concern for vets. Ninety-four percent of vets in large animal and mixed practice said in a 2018 BVA survey that they were concerned about antimicrobial resistance. More than nine in ten vets mentioned that they were concerned about the potential inability to treat infection.

Ongoing work by vets, farmers and industry has led to a 40 percent reduction in sales of antibiotics meant for use in food-producing animals in the UK over the last five years, with sales of the HP-CIAs dropping by 52 percent in this period.

In May this year, BVA released an updated policy position on the responsible use of antimicrobials in food producing animals amid an increasing global push for One Health working to protect antimicrobials for the sake of animal and human health. Apart from reiterating that vets should continue to be guided by the seven principles of responsible antimicrobial use, the position also recommends that the government continues to work with vets and industry to review and set further rational targets through the RUMA Targets Task Force and to promote incentives to improve husbandry and biosecurity measures on farm.

Read BVA’s policy on the responsible use of antimicrobials in food producing animals.