Preserving the Power of Antibiotics for Humans and AnimalsPosted on by
Guest Author: Dr. Lonnie King
The single most important action to slow the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant infections is for every one of us to improve the way antibiotics are prescribed and used. Antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine remain the cornerstone of treating and preventing serious bacterial infections. However, it will take commitment from all sectors, including the human health side and the animal health side, in order to preserve the power of antibiotics.
A report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology; an Executive Order; a National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria; and a new Presidential Advisory Council have all come together in a renewed effort to reduce antibiotic resistance, and have established an important framework to implement an integrated, national plan for the first time.
Our colleges and universities have worked with state and federal government agencies to improve public health for more than a century. Recently, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) and the Association of American Veterinary Medical College (AAVMC) formed a Task Force on Antibiotic Resistance in Production Agriculture to develop action items to reduce antibiotic resistance.
Key recommendations from the task force report include the following measures:
- Designing and implementing a model university curriculum for both medical and agricultural colleges
- Creating antibiotic stewardship programs
- Developing a communication plan for animal producers, the public, and medical professionals, including veterinarians
- Creating educational and outreach programs for students of all ages
The Task Force recommends forming a university research organization to facilitate public–private collaboration, help drive innovation, and coordinate university research and educational programs. Other recommendations focus on strengthening basic and applied research programs to increase our understanding of antibiotic resistance in human and veterinary medicine. This includes finding alternatives to antibiotics; exploring new methods and tools to improve surveillance; developing accurate and rapid diagnostic tools; enhancing disease prevention; improving control and hygiene strategies; and using new Food and Drug Administration guidelines as the basis for helping quantify the costs and benefits of eliminating antibiotics being used for growth promotion for food animals.
The task force recommendations will help integrate agriculture and veterinary medicine into the National Action Plan. The recommendations are centered on One Health, which emphasizes the need for a holistic approach to addressing antibiotic resistance in humans, animals and the environment. The substantial assets and expertise of our great universities will add real value in helping to achieve the ambitious goals of the National Action Plan for the benefit of all Americans.