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  • Writer's pictureBecky Faulks

Better Conditions for Farm Animals will Improve Human Health

Recent successes highlight the need for dramatic change in farming practices

The news that animal and human health are connected will likely come as no surprise, particularly when it applies to the animals we farm. Animal lovers and activists often campaign against the cruelty many farm animals face, but as it turns out, improving their lives will also improve our own. A report published by FOUR PAWS in November highlighted antimicrobial resistance as one of the greatest threats to human health, stating that 70% of global antibiotics are used for intensive farming. This brings with it the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), both in animals and in humans. Reducing antibiotic use in farming will greatly help the problem, and according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), improving hygiene, better use of vaccination, and changes in animal housing and husbandry practices are the way to achieve it.

Photo by Pixabay

AMR occurs when pathogens such as bacteria and fungi no longer respond to antibiotics, a process which is fuelled by antibiotic overuse. There is a worry that medicines will not be developed quickly enough to treat infections, leading to illnesses with no known cure. Luckily, there is progress. A report by the UK’s National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) states that, in the UK, antibiotic sales for food-producing animals are at their lowest sales to date, reducing by 59% since 2014. This is a welcome statistic and demonstrates growing awareness among farmers and veterinarians of the need to tackle the issue, and the value of collaborative work. This information comes from a UK Veterinary Antibiotic Resistance Sales Surveillance Report published by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), and is backed by a progress report by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA).

Dawn Howard, NOAH Chief Executive, stated: ‘NOAH welcomes both reports and the demonstration of the UK veterinary and farming sectors’ commitment to antibiotic stewardship. We, alongside others, look forward to using the insights from these reports to further our commitment to responsible antibiotic use. Both reports reflect the collaborative efforts of vets, farmers, animal health companies and regulators to ensure that antibiotics remain effective to treat animal diseases and support animal health and welfare, thus helping in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. The two reports come as the second Antibiotic Amnesty Campaign is launched. This calls for veterinary practices to actively encourage their clients to return any unused or out of date antibiotics for safe disposal.’


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