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2nd OIE Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance: strengthening dialogue between medical doctors and veterinarians

Two hundred seventy people participated in the second OIE International Conference on Antimicrobial resistance, which took place at the OIE headquarters in Paris between 2 and 4 October 2001. There were from 41 countries with representatives from international bodies such as the FAO and the WHO, as well as from the medical profession, veterinary profession, pharmaceutical industry and consumer organisations.

The aim of the conference was to report on progress in the understanding of mechanisms governing the development of resistance to antibiotics since the previous conference held in 1999 and to discuss actions to be taken to combat bacterial resistance to antibiotics. A report on antimicrobial resistance, that had been developed by a Group of OIE Experts, was presented at the meeting. The report addressed monitoring the consumption of antibiotics, risk analysis, resistance surveillance programmes, standardisation of laboratory methods and the prudent use of antibiotics.

Although it was reiterated that public health problems associated with resistant bacteria resulted mainly from the use of antibiotics in human medicine, transfers of resistance between animals and humans make it the duty of the various professionals concerned to improve the responsible use of antibiotics in livestock production. The dialogue between medical doctors and veterinarians needs to be strengthened, following the example of this conference, which encouraged the coordination of actions undertaken in the human and veterinary fields.

It was acknowledged that it is necessary to conduct a risk assessment before making any administrative or regulatory decision on how to combat microbial resistance. It is now recommended to apply the methodology developed by the OIE to various specific situations for further improvement. As the scientific body recognised by the SPS agreements of the WTO, the OIE must pursue the elaboration of a methodology that will prove invaluable for avoiding or settling disputes concerning international trade in food of animal origin. Risk analysis provides the justification for surveillance programs for resistant bacteria and for the quantification of antibiotics used in animal production.
It would be advisable to encourage all countries to implement resistant bacteria surveillance programmes. In order to be able to compare and collate the results obtained, it appears necessary to further harmonise surveillance plans and to standardise quantitative laboratory methods used to measure bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

There was a consensus on the rapid implementation of prudent and responsible use of veterinary drugs. Given the scale of the task, a recommendation stated that the international organisations and lenders of development funds should unite their efforts to help developing countries to satisfy the conditions necessary for implementing such responsible use of veterinary drugs, i.e. setting up a registration system, controlling imports, quality control programme and control of distribution. The administration of veterinary drugs should be under the responsibility of professionals with suitable training.

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Claire Gaudout
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