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Guidelines for the control of antimicrobial resistance

The World Organisation for Animal Health (Office International des Epizooties [OIE]) has completed an important part of its work aimed at the mitigation of risks from antimicrobial resistance in animal bacteria.

Countries are now gaining access to a set of comprehensive methodologies assuring that the identification and decision of appropriate intervention measures is conducted in an objective, science-based, transparent and defensible way.

The specific considerations that were given to the different conditions (geographical, use of antimicrobials, resistance situation) and to the technical capabilities and capacities of countries around the world, opens the way for an equal application of these methodologies both to developing and developed countries. The OIE is concerned to assure that if an animal or human health problem exists throughout the world, in as far as it does not respect national borders, all countries have an equal stand in protecting their animal and human populations and their national trade interests.

Two of the three pillars of the OIE strategy - the immediate measures to contain and reduce antimicrobial resistance through the prudent and responsible use of antibiotics and the tools to assess and manage risks to animals and humans - risk analysis methodology - harmonisation of surveillance systems and laboratory methodologies* became available for their implementation by country governments and Competent Authorities. The third pillar - the increase in knowledge on antimicrobial resistance world-wide - will be constructed as the implementation of the first two pillars proceeds and results are gained.

The International ad hoc Expert Group, set up by the OIE for this purpose, and the world-wide contribution of national and international experts in the field, enabled the OIE to complete this work of high scientific quality within the very short time of nine months.

The OIE Expert Group met last November for the third time on the premises of the OIE Collaborating Centre for Veterinary Medicinal Products - ANMV-AFSSA** in Fougères, France. The group undertook an in-depth review of the comments received via the public consultation, which had created considerable public interest in the use of antibiotics in animals, in matters of animal and human health and in the trade implications national measures could potentially provoke.

With the active participation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), represented by a senior officer of the Food Quality and Standards Service, the two international organisations recognised by the World Trade Organization (WTO), came together to jointly advance their reflections on this important matter.

This is of particular importance, as the standards developed by these two organisations referred to in the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) of the WTO, will serve as references should trade disputes arise over the restriction of trade in animals, animal products and certain foods in order to protect animal or human health. To assure coherence in their actions, the OIE and the FAO envisage a collaborative approach to putting these guidelines into practice.

With regard to the OIE, the new guidelines will be addressed to its 155 Member Countries for adoption by the OIE International Committee. These guidelines will then form the ground upon which governments, Veterinary Services, registration authorities, veterinary professions and farmers will base those actions deemed necessary for the protection of animal and human health against resistance from animal bacteria.

Furthermore, the new guidelines will be presented at the Second International OIE Scientific Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance, which will be held in 2001 at the OIE headquarters in Paris, France.

* Additional information can be found on the Web site:

** ANMV-AFSSA: Agence national du médicament vétérinaire - Agence française de sécurité sanitaire des aliments (National Agency for Veterinary
Medicinal Products - French Agency for Health Security in Food)