Around the world, antibiotics are widely used to treat bacterial infections, both in human and in veterinary medicine. But they can also have negative effects on health if they’re used in an excessive fashion. In the European Union, the use in livestock farming of antibiotics to promote growth has already been banned since 2006. France has introduced major efforts in reducing the unnecessary use of antibiotics in agriculture, most notably through its EcoAntiBio plan. The country hopes to continue to play a leading role in coming years in the reduction of excessive use of antibiotics in agriculture.
Antibiotic resistance is a phenomenon that appeared several years ago and limits the therapeutic arsenal available for the treatment of certain diseases. Today, it is more and more difficult to find new effective molecules for treatment. So it is essential that we maintain the efficacy of the antibiotics that we currently possess.
For these reasons, the French government introduced the EcoAntiBio plan, which calls for the prudent and reasonable use of antibiotics: only in strictly appropriate and necessary quantities should they be prescribed and administered in animals. Its goal is to reduce the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine by 25% in five years.
Other than the quantitative aspect, the plan also calls for a particular effort to be made to reduce the use of critically important antibiotics in veterinary medicine in order preserve their efficacy in human and animal health.
The plan also provides several tools for the public and actors in the field to use to help meet these ambitious goals. The first aspect is surveillance. As part of this, bacteria are very closely monitored in animals and food products of animal origin to alter the presence of any antibiotic resistant strains.
Another aspect is education on the correct use of antibiotics and biosecurity. Increasing awareness and education for actors in the field is indispensable in changing behaviors. The correct use of antibiotics and best practices are also tackled from the beginning in agricultural education and also in educating existing farmers.
A measurement tool for follow the evolution of practices is also key. Reference indicators for the proscription and use of antibiotics and other medicinal tools in livestock raising will be made available to veterinarians and actors in the livestock industry. These tools allow for an easier evaluation of antibiotic use and the identification of areas where progress can be made in the future.