The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance has called on global business leaders to recognise the complexity of the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) challenge in humans and animals.

RUMA logoThe alliance made the call in a paper circulated to the G20 Summit at Hangzhou, Zhejiang in China on 4 to 5 September.

According to RUMA, the paper asks the G20 to work with regulators and vets to develop bespoke solutions for farmers in each country so they can reduce, refine and replace the use of antibiotics.

Concrete context

RUMA chairman Gwyn Jones said he hoped the paper would place some “much-needed” context around the role of medicines in livestock farming.

“Resistance is a naturally occurring phenomenon that develops as bacteria defend themselves against attack, so any antibiotic use can lead to resistance. In fact, resistant bacteria that are millions of years old, pre-dating modern medicine, have been found in the ice caps.

Gwyn Jones.

“With AMR very much on the G20’s agenda, it’s important global political and business leaders understand this and other complexities around AMR in terms of the causes, the role of antibiotics in humans and animals, and the challenges of tackling resistance sustainably and effectively.”

Global variance

One challenge, Mr Jones said, is the variation in antibiotic use from country to country.

“In developed countries the barriers can revolve around supply chains, market pressure and communication. In developing countries, meanwhile, the focus is more on extended veterinary services to help farmers get the right medicine for treating their animals and to use those medicines at the right time and in the right way.”

He also insisted responsible use needed to be defined as using antibiotics “as little as possible and as much as necessary”.

Wider actions

“In other words, managing farms to reduce the risk of infection by improving hygiene, using good quality feed, giving the animals access to fresh water, using vaccines and controlling the movement of animals and people into and around the farm through good biosecurity practises.”

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