NZ vets to phase out antibiotics

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 3rd August 2015

DrugsThe New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) has announced plans to eliminate the use of antibiotics when taking care of animals.

“By 2030 New Zealand Inc will not need antibiotics for the maintenance of animal health and wellness,” New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) President Dr Steve Merchant said.

Around 70 percent of human infectious diseases, including meningitis, anthrax and salmonellosis (food poisoning) have come from animals.

“With sharply increasing levels of resistance to antibiotics worldwide, we want animals and, by extension, humans to enter the ‘post-antibiotic’ era as safely as possible.”

Dr Merchant said this is a significant undertaking, requiring considerable teamwork and commitment from the veterinary profession, working with the medical, scientific, government and relevant primary industry sectors.

He described the prize as “enormous” for New Zealand Inc and the world.

“Given the wide acceptance that the future for antibiotics is limited, and the close links between animals, humans and the environment we share, achieving this goal is essential,” Dr Merchant said.

“New Zealand is well suited to this challenge; given our size, proximity of the various specialities and relevant industry sectors, and already low use of antibiotics.”

Examples include:

  • Zero use of antibiotics in aquaculture
  • New Zealand is the world’s third lowest user of antibiotics on animals
  • Increasing focus on animal ‘wellness’
  • New Zealand’s grass-based farm management systems.

“These represent a sound platform, and veterinarians’ role at the intersection of animal life, human life and the environment makes ours a logical profession to be taking a lead,” Dr Merchant said.

“Achieving this goal will require a concerted international collaborative effort involving attitudinal and behavioural change across government, research, human health professionals, pharmaceutical companies, and a range of associated industries – as well as the public.”

“Veterinarians will use and advocate for careful antibacterial management and monitoring based on responsible use of existing antibiotics, as we work with our industry partners to jointly test and develop the necessary alternatives.”

The Context

Antibiotics have improved the quality of our lives beyond measure. Less than 100 years on from their discovery, their misuse and increasing antibiotic resistance poses a major risk to animal and human health, limiting treatment options and increasing the risk of untreatable infections.

About the NZVA

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) is the only membership association representing New Zealand veterinarians. With over 2000 members we are the leading voice for veterinarians working in all disciplines where animals, humans and the environment intersect. Our work ensures our members’ contribution to the country’s economy and international status, food safety and animal health and welfare is of the highest quality, recognised and valued.