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Green economy wales
20 June 2024

Vet & Farmer Conference puts Focus on Animal & Human Health

Vets and farmers have heard how a Welsh programme is leading the fight against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

The Arwain Vet & Farmer Conference featured presentations on animal and human health and the drive to combat AMR, and the successes so far.

The conference heard that AMR is already a leading cause of human death globally, and it is estimated that in 2019, 1.27 million deaths were caused by antibiotic-resistant infections.

The award-winning Arwain DGC (Defnydd Gwrthficrobaidd Cyfrifol / Responsible Antimicrobial Use) programme helps vets, farmers, and horse owners in Wales reduce the risk of AMR by promoting animal health and productivity, training, the application of new technology, data gathering, and research.

Organised in partnership with the Wales Veterinary Science Centre, the Arwain Vet & Farmer Conference was held at Aberystwyth University. Representatives from the programme’s partner organisations gave updates on how Arwain DGC’s innovative workstreams are making an impact. Also, new insights were given on AMR’s challenges to human health, and the work being done internationally.

Meryl Davies, the Lead Antimicrobial Pharmacist for Primary and Community Care for Public Health Wales (PHW), stressed the threat posed by AMR by highlighting a statement from the British Medical Journal (BMJ): “Without effective treatment and prevention of bacterial infections, we also risk rolling back important achievements of modern medicine such as major surgery, organ transplantation, and cancer chemotherapy.”

Meryl said,

“It was great to be part of the Arwain DGC conference and to be given the opportunity to provide examples of the human health aspects of AMR and realise how close the messaging is from the perspective of both human and animal health. AMR is a One-Health problem, and as such, it is important that we engage with all our stakeholders, including the public, farmers, and all our prescribers.”

The final speaker of the day was New Zealand vet Ben Davidson, who leads an AMR strategy project for the New Zealand Vet Council. He recently became CEO of agri-tech company DairySmart, which produces mastitis diagnostic technology.

He said the work being done in Wales on tackling AMR is world-leading, and it has opened the door for companies like his to help vets and farmers invest in and apply technology that results in reducing antibiotic use.

Arwain DGC programme manager Dewi Hughes said,

“We were thrilled to share exclusive results from the Arwain DGC Programme at this year's conference, a culmination of two and a half years of intensive work alongside vets, farmers, researchers and industry representatives. This collaborative effort has positioned us as a global leader in tackling antibiotic resistance, a critical issue with far-reaching consequences for human and animal health.

“The programme has yielded significant progress on multiple fronts. We've empowered over 50 vets to champion responsible antibiotic prescribing, trialled new farm technologies to enhance animal health and reduce reliance on antibiotics, and established a robust system for recording and analysing antibiotic use. Additionally, our research on resistance transmission in the environment provides valuable insights for prevention strategies.

“The positive impact extends beyond resistance reduction. We've observed improved animal health and productivity, along with a reduced carbon footprint—a win for all.

“The Arwain DGC Programme exemplifies the power of collaboration. By working together, we can effectively tackle complex challenges like antibiotic resistance and ensure a healthier future for all.”

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