Today (18th November) is European Antibiotics Awareness Day. Whilst raising awareness of the overuse of antibiotics is vitally important, next year we would like this to be renamed to European Action on Antibiotics Day.
Awareness is no longer the issue: now is the time for action.
The government has set targets for reducing the amount of antibiotics prescribed by doctors and a consensus of medical professionals have called for targets to reduce consumption in the community and hospitals.
Farming and antibiotics
But farming accounts for 42% of antibiotic use in the UK and must be given a target too. The government has failed to set any targets, which means overuse in farming could undermine any improvements made in medicine.
There are already concerns that antibiotic resistant E. coli from farm animals are contributing to the 5,000 deaths a year from antibiotic resistant bloodstream infections.
New targets must be set in both medicine and agriculture.
UK medical community speaks out
A letter from the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics, of which we are a member, was printed in The Times (£) today. It was co-signed by: Dr Suzy Lishman, Royal College of Pathologists; Dr Maureen Baker, Royal College of General Practitioners; Babulal Sethia, Royal Society of Medicine; Dr Ron Daniels, Global Sepsis Alliance; Dr David McCoy, Medact; Alison Craig, Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics.
This is the first time the UK medical establishment has called for farm antibiotic use reduction targets.
Please contact your MP to tell them that we must stop the overuse of antibiotics on farm.