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A new initiative to prevent antibiotic resistance to bacteria in animals and its spread in the environment has been set up, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths has announced.

First published:
14 May 2019
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

The Animal and Environment Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Delivery Group for Wales, which held its first meeting yesterday (13 May), will finalise an Implementation Plan to achieve this over the next five years.  

It will aim to prevent and control infectious diseases in animals and ensure antibiotics are used responsibly in Wales.  

It will also address the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria in the environment, to and from animals and people, and the food they eat and the spaces they share.

The new Implementation Plan and Group will deliver Wales’ contribution to the UK Five Year National Action Plan, which was published in January 2019.  It will work closely with medical and public health counterparts in Wales to ensure a fully joined-up, “One Health” approach to addressing the threat of antibiotic resistance.

The Group’s goals over the next five years are to: 

  • reduce need for use of antibiotics in animals through prevention of infections.
  • minimise the development and spread of antibiotic resistance in and the environment
  • optimise the sustainable use of antibiotics in animals.
  • ensure adequate surveillance capability to provide the information required to control antibiotic resistance
  • collaborate with others to deliver effective antibiotics in the future.

It comes as the rise and spread of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) poses a serious threat to the ability to control infections in healthcare settings, in the wider community and in animals. 

The impacts of leaving AMR unchecked are wide-ranging and extremely costly, not only in financial terms but also in terms of global, public and animal health, trade, food security, environmental wellbeing and socioeconomic development. 

It is hoped that a co-ordinated approach between government, animal keepers and veterinarians will control the spread of infectious diseases and of the antibiotics that are used to treat them.

The Animal and Environment Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Delivery Group will report both to the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group (WAHWFG) and to the Wales Healthcare-associated infection / AMR Steering Group, chaired by the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, with the Welsh Chief Veterinary Officer as a member. When completed, it will submit its implementation Plan to the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, for consideration and adoption.

Members of the group include representatives from the farming industry, veterinary profession and Public Health Wales.

Minister Lesley Griffiths said:

“I am pleased to set up this Group aimed at tackling the very concerning issue of Antimicrobial Resistance. 

“It is imperative we all work together to ensure every effort is made to prevent the spread of animal diseases and the most appropriate form of treatment is always used.

“The effects of AMR can be hugely disruptive and costly, not just to animal keepers and veterinarians but the wider community too. This is why we need guidance about how best to tackle the issue head on and I look forward to seeing the group’s recommendations.”

Gareth Thomas, who works in the farming industry, said:

“I believe that we as a country have reached a point where we need to concentrate on reducing antibiotic usage. We as an industry can do our bit to help make antibiotic treatments as effective as possible. This will inevitably help to reduce costs and improve general wellbeing, through targeting the correct medicine's to use, instead of blanket treatment usage and dependence on antibiotics.