Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has become a major public health and food safety concern across the world, with resistance often being considered as one of the biggest challenges facing us. The sometimes mis-guided overuse of antimicrobial medicines in both human health and agricultural production systems has led to a rise in antibiotic resistant infections and the use of these medicines is therefore attracting increasing regulatory scrutiny.
Antimicrobial is a broad term used to describe antibiotics that include antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasite and antiviral agents. The bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses evolve over time and develop traits (a resistance) which enable them to survive exposure to medicines that would normally kill them, and this can have life threatening consequences.
Here in Scotland steps are being taken to address the issue of AMR with the Scottish Management of Antimicrobial Resistance Action Plan 2014–18 (ScotMARAP). The plan sets out actions to address the key challenges to AMR outlined by the UK AMR Strategy 2013-18.
These identified challenges are:
- improve the knowledge and understanding of AMR;
- conserve and steward the effectiveness of existing treatments;
- and stimulate the development of new antibiotics, diagnostics and novel therapies.
Improving infection prevention and control practices in human and animal health as well as better access and use of surveillance data in human and animal sectors is a key action area and this is an area where current SEFARI research particularly seeks to help.
SEFARI research spans a number of areas that affect AMR, and they include the evaluation of livestock health; animal disease epidemiology; food safety; disease threats in the environment and integrated pest management. These are all topics which are being discussed at a conference, ‘Antimicrobials and Food Production: Should We Be Worried’, that I have recently been involved in organising. The conference is taking place on Tuesday 25th September 2018 at Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI) and is being funded through the SEFARI Gateway Responsive Opportunity Fund.