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1st Global Conference on the prudent use of antimicrobials in veterinary medicine

13-15 March 2013 90 years of expertise

Solidarity against antimicrobial resistance

13 to 15 March 2013: the fight against antimicrobial resistance, a subject of global human and animal health concern, brought together leading world experts and stakeholders in this field.

The Conference was organised in close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It aimed at discussing with veterinarians, on the prudent use of antimicrobials in animal health. It served as a reminder of the need to stimulate international solidarity and cooperation to ensure worldwide supervision of the production, importation, marketing and use of antimicrobials. It also emphasised the importance of helping countries not yet in a position to apply the OIE’s standards to put in place the necessary legislation, structures and human and financial resources to ensure prudent use of antimicrobials.

Resistant bacteria know no borders and inadequate management by a single country can jeopardise all the others. One of the recommendations issued by the Conference was also aimed at collecting harmonised quantitative data on the use of antimicrobial agents in animals with a view to establishing a global database.

For a reminder
Recommendations of the OIE Global Conference on the Responsible and Prudent Use of Antimicrobial Agents for Animals.

Fighting antimicrobial resistance: the need for global action

The massive production of antimicrobial agents, first for human medicine and then for veterinary medicine, has increased the risk of emergence of partially or fully resistant bacteria. This phenomenon, called antimicrobial resistance, limits the efficacy and availability of antimicrobial agents and jeopardises effective control of infectious diseases.

In parallel, the growth of global trade and travel helps to disseminate pathogens, including resistant bacteria, around the world. The discovery of new treatments does not manage to keep pace with the accelerating development of the emergence of resistance, which means that antimicrobial resistance is a growing problem, posing a threat to advances in human and veterinary medicine.

Antimicrobial agents are:

  • Essential to treat bacterial diseases of human and animals.
  • Considered a public good that needs to be protected.

They are essential resources for safeguarding human health, animal health, animal welfare, food safety and the production of animal protein throughout the world.

The OIE has been working actively for more than a decade on veterinary products, including antimicrobial agents. The Organisation has developed a coherent strategy in this field. It promotes the responsible and prudent use of antimicrobial agents throughout the world so as to preserve their therapeutic efficacy in both animals and humans.
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Achieving safe use of antimicrobial agents: OIE’s actions

Better control of the production, registration, import and distribution of antimicrobials and their use


  • By supervising the use of antimicrobials in animals through:
    • appropriate regulations
    • qualified professionals
    • a well-structured veterinary profession
  • By supporting countries in need of assistance, through:
    • international solidarity programmes

Appropriate regulations: International standards for proper use of antimicrobial agents

The OIE develops standards and guidelines on:

  • prudent and responsible use of antimicrobials,
  • controlling the quantities of antimicrobials used in animal production in terrestrial animals and aquatic animals,
  • methods for evaluating the risk of emergence or spread of resistant bacteria.

These standards have been adopted by the 178 Member Countries of the OIE and were developed with the support of the Organisation’s Collaborating Centres and Reference Laboratories, as well as the ad hoc Groups that work in collaboration with the FAO and WHO.
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Consult the OIE’s standards relating to antimicrobial resistance:

∙ Terrestrial Code (Chapter 6.6.; Chapter 6.7.; Chapter 6.8.; Chapter 6.9. and Chapter 6.10.)
. Aquatic Code (Chapter 6.2., Chapter 6.3., Chapter 6.4. and Chapter 6.5.)
. Terrestrial Manual (Guideline 2.1.).

Out of 120 countries recently evaluated by the OIE, more than 100 still lack suitable legislation regarding the conditions governing the use and management of veterinary products, including antimicrobial agents. 

Qualified professionals: ensuring high-quality training worldwide

Antibiotics are not ordinary products and their prescription, sale and use cannot be free from control. The best way of using these products and treating animals is directly through a veterinarian licenced to practise who has received appropriate specialist training. The OIE has developed recommendations aimed at improving the quality of veterinary education worldwide.

A well-structured veterinary profession: The importance of Veterinary Statutory Bodies

The OIE advocates that the veterinary profession should be controlled by law, to ensure professional ethics and good governance of the Veterinary Services. To this end, it has developed standards and programmes relating to the constitution and functioning of national and regional Veterinary Statutory Bodies with the necessary powers to exercise control over professional qualifications, ethics and professional excellence, and to remove from the register anyone whose conduct is found to be inappropriate.

International solidarity actions: Capacity-building programmes for Veterinary Services

The actions of OIE Member Countries are coordinated by OIE national Focal Points for Veterinary Products, who provide the national Delegates with technical assistance aimed at improving and harmonising national policies on veterinary products, with special attention being given to the field of antimicrobial resistance. Since 2010, they have undergone regular training on the subject in collaboration with FAO and the WHO.

The OIE offers Veterinary Services permanent support to enable its Member Countries to implement the standards and guidelines relating to prudent use of antimicrobial agents. The OIE’s PVS Tool (PVS = Performance of Veterinary Services) and Veterinary Education Twinning projects are designed to promote the sustainable development of the national Veterinary Services, including with regard to the fight against antimicrobial resistance.
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Developing alternatives to antibiotics

The OIE supports new research into alternatives to antibiotics and hosted an International Symposium on the subject in 2012, organised by the International Alliance for Biological Standardization (IABS) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Together in the fight against antimicrobial resistance

Within the framework of a “One Health” tripartite alliance, the OIE collaborates with the FAO and the WHO on numerous projects.

The OIE works at the animal/human/ecosystems interface and fully endorses the “One Health” concept. As humans and animals share the same bacteria and 60% of dangerous human pathogens are of animal origin, the clear priority is to strengthen and improve coordination between public and animal health sectors, involving environmental actors too when relevant.

This collaboration between the three organisations, FAO, OIE and WHO, known as the “Tripartite Alliance”, is based on a concept note signed by the three Directors General. Since 2011, antimicrobial resistance, along with rabies and zoonotic influenza, have been the three priorities of the Alliance’s action plan.

FAO / OIE / WHO tripartite action to fight antimicrobial resistance

  • ensuring that antimicrobial agents maintain their efficacy
  • promoting responsible and prudent use of antimicrobial agents
  • enabling everyone to access good quality medicines.

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