November 18 to 24, 2019, was World Antibiotic Awareness Week. Identified by the World Health Organization as one of the most serious potential menaces to public health, antibiotic resistance is correlated to the use of antibiotics that generate, over time, an increase in bacterial resistance that threatens the effectiveness of treatments.
Since 2016, France has had an interministerial roadmap for controlling antibiotic resistance, under a “One Health” perspective, which coordinates actions in human, animal and environmental health on the subject.
The French Ministry of Agriculture and Food is completely committed to fight against antibiotic resistance. It is leading the Ecoantibio Plan II (2017-2021), which handles the animal health aspects of the interministerial roadmap. Ecoantibio is composed of 20 measures covering all international recommendations regarding fighting antibiotic resistance. The EcoAntibio II Plan, like the phase I of the plan (2012-2016), is co-constructed with all actors of the animal health sector. The commitment of the veterinary profession and all stakeholders (farmers and their representatives, cooperatives, technical institutes, etc.), has aided the project in largely surpassing the goals of the first plan (decrease of 37% in exposure of animals to antibiotics between 2012 and 2016, while the initial goal was set at 25%).
Different actions are put in place to meet the goals of the plan. Some examples:
- Annual targeted communication campaigns for farmers and veterinarians :in September 2019, a new communication campaign was launched, aimed at farmers and veterinarians. This campaign promotes all of the preventive measures that help in limiting the use of antibiotics and guaranteeing the health of the animals: Respecting biosecurity rules, vaccinating animals, and improving animal welfare.
- Spreading best practices and training veterinarians : the network of veterinarians trained in antibiotic therapy was put in place in 2017 and, after a pilot phase, was extended to all of France in 2019. For each animal species, a veterinarian will answer questions posed by colleagues about antibiotic therapy. The responders also spread the best practices for use of antibiotics.
- More than 200 projects financed since 2013 in the benefit of farmers, veterinarians, and research : since 2013, Ecoantibio devoted around two million euros to action and research projects. With the call for projects of 2019, the 200th project was financed this year.
Farmers and their representatives are particularly involved in the fight against antibiotic resistance. Animal health protection groups and agricultural technical institutes, which work side by side on a daily basis, regularly propose actions to take or research projects to consider in different fields in response to calls for projects in the Ecoantibio Plan.