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Animal Medicines Australia backs country's antimicrobial stewardship plan

Animal Medicines Australia (AMA) has commended the country's new national antimicrobial resistance (AMR) strategy. 

The AMA's executive director Ben Stapley said Australia's National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy for 2020 and Beyond "places a greater emphasis on the need for a One Health approach".

The plan builds on Australia's first national AMR strategy, which covered 2015-2019. The new strategy provides a 20-year vision of how to protect the health of humans, animals and the environment through "minimizing the development and spread of AMR while continuing to have effective antimicrobials available".

The 2020 strategy aligns with the WHO's Global Action Plan, which is the internationally recognized blueprint for addressing AMR.

Australia's new plan focuses on seven objectives:

  • Clear governance for antimicrobial resistance initiatives;

  • Prevention and control of infections and the spread of resistance;

  • Greater engagement in the combat against resistance;

  • Appropriate usage and stewardship practices;

  • Integrated surveillance and response to resistance and usage;

  • A strong collaborative research agenda across all sectors; and

  • Strengthen global collaboration and partnerships.

The strategy was put together with public input, as well as expert advice from the Australian Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on AMR, which comprises representatives from government and organizations across the human health, animal health, agriculture, food and environment sectors.

Mr Stapley added: "We look forward to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to support the priorities set out in the new strategy in order to protect human, animal and environmental health, and preserve the effectiveness of these life-saving medicines into the future."

The AMA pointed out the animal health industry in Australia has been "very proactive in addressing antimicrobial resistance", with the development of the Animal Sector AMR Action Plan in 2018 and "numerous sector-specific stewardship programs and initiatives".

The organization has been collaborating with Australian Veterinary Association to develop best practice prescribing guidelines for each of the major livestock sectors and was the principal sponsor of the first veterinary antimicrobial stewardship conference held in Australia in 2018.

Since the first AMR strategy was implemented in 2015, Australia has created a One Health AMR online hub – a central repository for information and resources. The country has also: established the Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Australia Surveillance System; completed proof-of-concept antimicrobial resistance surveillance projects in the animal sector; and invested in R&D through national grants.

The government said: "To ensure antimicrobials remain effective for decades to come, Australia needs to build on those achievements. This will require taking longer-term, coordinated action to ensure antimicrobials are managed as the valuable shared resource they are, and that a national effort is made to retain their usefulness to society.

The 2020 Strategy was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments "in recognition that combatting antimicrobial resistance is a matter of national importance and requires coordinated action by all Australian governments, along with the private sector, industry, professionals, the research community and the general public".

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