Code of practice for responsible use of antimicrobials in sheep

Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett, has launched the Code of Good Practice regarding the responsible use of antimicrobials in sheep.

Launching it, the minister said: ‘‘This Code of Good Practice will serve as a useful tool for sheep farmers as they work to address the ‘One Health’ challenge of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).”

AMR is resistance of a microorganism to a drug that was originally effective for treatment of infections caused by that microorganism.

Resistant microorganisms (including bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites) are able to withstand attack by antimicrobial drugs, such as antibacterial drugs (e.g. antibiotics), antifungals, antivirals, and antimalarials.

This resistance means standard treatments become ineffective and infections persist, increasing the risk of spread to others.

The minister welcomed the Code of Good Practice as a means of highlighting the continued global concern in relation to AMR and its potential threat to human and animal health, as well as the challenges to food security and the environment.

She commented:

Antibiotics need to be safeguarded for the benefit of both humans and animals, and strategies to reduce the use of antibiotics in both the human and animal health sectors is seen as a key intervention.

“Actions taken to improve animal health, and prevent disease are key to reducing the use of antibiotics, and effectively tackling AMR.

“The practical strategies outlined in this document highlight some of the important actions that sheep farmers can take to reduce their overall use of antibiotics and to improve their flock health.”

Teagasc virtual sheep week

The launch coincides with Teagasc’s week long event which has focused on communicating the latest research findings relevant to sheep farmers, with today’s focus being on the impact of national and EU policy and the environment on sheep production.

Minister Hackett acknowledged the ongoing support and collaboration with industry stakeholders, particularly the members of the iNAP animal health sector committee which is chaired by the chief veterinary officer Dr Martin Blake, in producing the Code of Good Practice.

“The ambitious AMR implementation plan currently in place for the animal health and environmental sector can only be achieved by various stakeholders taking on leadership roles and working in partnership,” concluded Minister Hackett.

What is iNAP?

iNAP is Ireland’s response to international calls to produce a multi-sectoral action plan to tackle AMR.

Ireland is committed to and engaged in addressing resolution of the problem of AMR and collaborates at international, EU and national levels.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine jointly developed and launched Ireland’s first ‘One Health’ National Action plan to address antimicrobial resistance – iNAP –  in conjunction with the Department of Health in 2017 and is currently working on a second action plan to commence in 2021.

At a national level the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) of the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, respectively, established the National Interdepartmental Antimicrobial Resistance Consultative Committee in 2014.