Press Release

Ministers Harris and Creed secure Government approval for Ireland’s first National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance 2017-2020

Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, have secured Government approval for Ireland’s first National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance 2017-2020.

Antimicrobials are medicines, including antibiotics, which are used to treat infections or disease, and are essential in both human and animal health. Antimicrobial resistance occurs when an antimicrobial that was previously effective, is no longer effective to treat an infection or disease caused by a microorganism. This is a worldwide issue and is a significant threat to public and animal health.

The overall goal of Ireland’s National Action Plan on AMR is to ensure, for as long as possible, the availability of effective antibiotic treatment options for both humans and animals, with safe medicines that are quality-assured, used in a responsible way, and accessible to all who need them.

Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD said, “The rise in antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest potential global threats to human health. It also has serious consequences for animal health and welfare, as well as having an adverse environmental impact. The truth is that If AMR continues to rise it will become increasingly difficult and expensive to control and treat infections in medical care. As a country we need to act now to respond to this reality.”

Minister Harris added “This National Action Plan represents Ireland’s commitment to the development and implementation of a cross-sectoral ‘One Health’ approach to the problem of antimicrobial resistance. The Plan has been jointly developed by both Departments with the oversight and guidance of the Interdepartmental AMR Consultative Committee which was established by the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Veterinary Officer of our two respective Departments. Both Minister Creed and I are most appreciative of the valuable input of the Committee, whose membership encompasses the human health, animal health and environmental sectors, providing expertise across all sectors.”

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD stated, “I would like to acknowledge the work done by both Departments as well as by the stakeholders, in relation to the development of the National Action Plan. This ambitious 3-year Plan contains a range of strategic interventions across the three ‘One Health’ sectors; human health, animal health and the environment.”

Minister Creed added “The Plan’s strategic interventions should not be viewed as optional, but rather as the basic requirements to ensure the appropriate use of antimicrobials, ensuring optimal outcomes for those who are patients today, as well as for those who will be patients tomorrow. Both my Department and the Department of Health will now begin work on the development of sector specific implementation plans. Minister Harris and I look forward to seeing the successful implementation of the Plan over the course of the next three years. Successful implementation of the Plan cannot be done in isolation by either Department. It will require all those involved in human health, animal health, agriculture, education and finance to work together to achieve this global public good.”

The Action Plan will be published in September and the implementation and evaluation processes will be designed encompassing ‘One Health’ and sector specific timeframes and responsible bodies for each activity over the lifetime of the Plan.

ENDS

Note to Editors

Background

AMR is resistance of a microorganism to an antimicrobial drug that was originally effective for treatment of infections caused by it. The extensive use, misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in human health has increasingly raised levels of antimicrobial resistance in a wide range of pathogens in all countries and in patients of all age groups. In the animal population, the rate of development and spread of antimicrobial resistance has also increased. The increasing global demand for affordable food, and in particular animal protein has led to intensification in certain animal sectors, which can result in higher potential risks of disease outbreaks, and therefore a strong reliance on availability of effective antimicrobials to treat disease and protect animal welfare.

The rise in antimicrobial resistance is considered to be one of the greatest potential threats to human health at global, European and national levels with serious consequences for public health as well as animal health and welfare. If AMR continues to rise it will become increasingly difficult and expensive to control and treat infections in medical care.

There is international consensus through the ‘One Health’ Initiative to which the WHO (World Health Organisation), FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) and the OIE (World Health Organisation for Animal Health) are signatories, that tackling the global public health threat of AMR requires action across human and animal health sectors, agriculture and the wider environment. To this end a Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance was adopted in 2015 by all countries, through the decisions of the WHO World Health Assembly, the FAO Conference and the World Assembly of OIE Delegates:
The WHO Global Action Plan on AMR sets out five strategic objectives:

  1. to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance;
  2. to strengthen knowledge through surveillance and research;
  3. to reduce the incidence of infection;
  4. to optimize the use of antimicrobial agents and
  5. develop the economic case for sustainable investment that takes account of the needs of all countries, and increase investment in new medicines, diagnostic tools, vaccines and other interventions.

The WHO expects that countries will develop their own national action plans on antimicrobial resistance in line with the Global Plan.

The Council of the European Union , in its document ‘The next steps under a ‘One Health’ approach to combat antimicrobial resistance’, also called on Member States to have in place by mid-2017 a national action plan against antimicrobial resistance based on the ‘One Health’ approach and in line with the objectives of the WHO Global Action Plan.

National Interdepartmental AMR Consultative Committee

In recognition of the serious and increasing threat of antimicrobial resistance and the requirement for a ‘whole of Government’ approach to health issues, the Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) established a high level National Interdepartmental AMR Consultative Committee to address this issue.

Committee membership consists of representatives of both Departments, the HSE, the Health Products Regulatory Authority, Animal Health Ireland, the Environmental Protection Agency and other key stakeholders, both public and private. As well as work on enhancing surveillance between the health and agriculture sectors, the Committee has overseen the development of Ireland’s first National Action Plan on AMR 2017-2020.

Goal of the National Action Plan on AMR 2017-2020

The overall goal of Ireland’s National Action Plan on AMR 2017-2020 is to ensure, for as long as possible, the availability of effective antibiotic treatment options for both humans and animals, with safe medicines that are quality-assured, used in a responsible way, and accessible to all who need them. Ireland’s Plan lists strategic interventions and activities, responsible bodies and priority rankings of timelines for implementation throughout the lifetime of the Plan.

Antimicrobial resistance in the human health sector – Department of Health

Antimicrobial resistance in the animal health sector – Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine

National Interdepartmental AMR Consultative Committee