From November 18 to 24, 2022, World Antibiotic Awareness Week takes place, in animals too! This time, a new “one health” awareness campaign was launched in Belgium. Vets are on the front line, along with other health professionals.
In Belgium, great progress has been made in the use of antibiotics in animals thanks to clear and ambitious reduction targets.1. Since 2011, we have recorded in Belgium a reduction in the sale of:
- 44.6% of all antibiotics
- 82.9% critically important antibiotics
- 75.4% colistin
- 74.2% medicated feed including antibiotics
The challenges for the livestock sector are not all met: users in the alarm zone2, characterized by a high structural use of antibiotics, represented at the end of 2021 respectively 9% and 13% of all farms in the fattening of pigs and calves. “Antibiotic coaching” was launched this year to remedy this. In addition, with the entry into force of the new European regulation 2019/6, important changes have been applied since the beginning of 2022: the prophylactic use of antibiotics is only possible for an individual animal; the use of metaphylactic is subject to the decision of the veterinarian according to the risks for the health and well-being of the animals3. In addition, new initiatives have been announced in Belgium: the conditions of use of critically important antibiotics will be extended to companion animals and the mandatory registration of antibiotic use will be gradually extended to all animal species.
On the occasion of the global awareness week for the prudent use of antibiotics and as part of the national action plan “One Health” to fight antimicrobial resistance, a joint communication and awareness strategy was developed between the public sectors health, animal health and the environment. A new awareness campaign was launched this November 18 with a key role for veterinarians and other health professionals. The campaign aims to facilitate the conversation about the use of antibiotics and thus promote good practices, both in humans and in animals. This year, the campaign mainly targets the general public and the accompanying animal sector, but under the slogan “let’s talk about antibiotics” everyone is invited to think about the good use of antibiotics.
Bolstered by the progress already made but aware of the challenges that must be faced, AMCRA, the competent federal authorities and the entire animal health sector welcome the new activities and collaborations resulting from the action plan of Belgian “One Health”. In this global week to raise awareness of the proper use of antibiotics, “Let’s talk about antibiotics” is the best strategy to fight antibiotic resistance.
The selection of resistance to antibiotics is a phenomenon that is mainly caused by their use in human and veterinary medicine. So it is important to ensure their rational use and to encourage prevention and the use of alternatives in these two sectors, especially to reduce the amount used.
The transfer of resistant bacteria between animals and humans, and vice versa, which also passes through the environment, justifies a global and integrated approach, called “One Health”.
AMCRA, with the support of AFSCA, FAMHP and SPF SPSCAE, is the driving force behind several initiatives launched in the field of veterinary medicine in Belgium. AMCRA is the knowledge center for antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance in animals in Belgium. The mission of AMCRA is 1) to prevent antibiotic resistance to protect human and animal health and animal welfare, 2) to work for a reasonable reduction in the use of antibiotics and a sustainable antibiotic policy in veterinary medicine in Belgium, 3) to study, communicate and raise awareness. For more information: www.amcra.be
The reduction and rational use of antibiotics are the pillars of AMCRA’s “Vision 2020” and “Vision 2024” action plans, developed with the aim of reducing antibiotic resistance in veterinary medicine in Belgium. In response to the need to raise awareness of the proper use of antibiotics and to guide veterinarians in an informed choice of antibiotic therapy, AMCRA has notably produced vade-mecums for major domestic animal species. The selection of antibiotics takes into account several criteria, including the importance of the antibiotic in question for human health.
The “Agreement on the responsible use of antibiotics in animals, established between the federal authorities and all partners with the aim of combating antimicrobial resistance” for the period 2021-2024 was signed by the federal government represented by Ministers of Public Health and Agriculture, the sectoral organizations pharma.be, ABS, BFA, Boerenbond, FWA, the sectoral organizations (Landsbond Pluimvee and VEPEK), the associations of veterinarians UPV, VeDa and SAVAB -Flanders, the councils of the Order of Veterinarians (CRFOMV in NGROD), the animal health associations ARSIA and DGZ, the specification managers Belbeef, Belplume, Belpork, BVK asbl, Codiplan, MilkBE and AB Register, as well which is also the AMCRA. A summary of the results and activities of the “Antibiotics” Convention can be consulted in the public reports available on the websites www.amcra.be and www.afsca.be.
Detailed results of antibiotic use in animals are available in the latest BelVet-SAC report. A summary of the results of use and resistance, as well as the activities of the Antibiotics Convention can be consulted in the public reports available on the websites www.amcra.be and www.afsca.be.
For more information, please consult the AMCRA, AFSCA, FAMHP and FPS SPSCAE websites.
1 AMCRA Vision 2020 and 2024 and Antibiotic Convention 2016-2020 and 2021-2024 (www.amcra.be and www.afsca.be)
2 Definition in appendix 3 of the Antibiotics Convention 2021-2024
3 Art. 107 of Regulation (EU) 2019/6 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 relating to veterinary medicinal products and repealing Directive 2001/82/EC