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World Antimicrobial Awareness Week a timely reminder of serious threat – VCNZ

Within the next 30 years, resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial products is anticipated to kill more people around the world than cancer, according to the World Health Organisation.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the top 10 global public health threats and occurs when bacteria, viruses and parasites no longer respond to medicine, making them difficult or impossible to treat. For this year’s World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW), which runs from 18-24 November, the emphasis will be on the collaboration required to manage the issue as it impacts animals, humans and plants.

The Veterinary Council of New Zealand (VCNZ), which regulates veterinarians and sets standards to support responsible antimicrobial use among veterinarians, is about to begin developing a new strategy to minimise the risk of AMR in animals in Aotearoa.

VCNZ CEO and Registrar Iain McLachlan says the strategy will complement initiatives in other parts of the sector, including the New Zealand Veterinary Association and Ministry for Primary Industries.

“Veterinarians, as stewards of antimicrobial products and the sole authoriser of their use in animals, have a critical role to play in managing the risks of AMR,” Iain says. “We’re looking forward to getting this work underway and will be consulting right across the sector to ensure a wide range of perspectives are captured.”

A steering group has been established, which will review how antibiotics are currently used and antimicrobial stewardship by New Zealand veterinarians. Members of the group will also interview stakeholders and evaluate existing AMR strategies. A discussion document summarising the group’s research will be widely consulted on before a strategy is finalised.

The theme for WAAW 2023 will be an extension of last year – “Preventing antimicrobial resistance together”. This calls for cross-sector collaboration to preserve the effectiveness of antimicrobials by using them appropriately; taking preventive measures to decrease the incidence of infections; and following good practices when disposing of antimicrobial contaminated waste.


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