Fast Facts

NZ veterinarians taking on one of the biggest health issues

New Zealand is joining the world in taking on one of the biggest issues facing the planet—and vets have a special role.

World Veterinary Day (WVD) will take place globally on 29 April 2017. The theme in 2017 is ‘Antimicrobial Resistance: From awareness to action’.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) is well placed to discuss this concerning and challenging issue that the World Health Organisation has named one of the greatest global health challenges we face.

NZVA chief executive Mark Ward says the New Zealand Veterinary Association is taking a strong position on Antimicrobial Resistance.

“Our goal is that by 2030 New Zealand Inc. will not need antibiotics for the maintenance of animal health and welfare,” said NZVA chief executive Mark Ward.

“It’s an aspirational goal. It’s big. But this is an enormous issue facing us; New Zealand’s veterinarians want to do their part to reduce our dependency on these critical medicines and preserve their use for as long as possible.

“We knew that finding alternatives, lateral thinking, and collaboration would be key to finding solutions to antibiotic resistance. And that’s what we’re doing, with the backing of vets, government, and industry across the country.”

The veterinary profession’s aspirational goal was launched by the NZVA in July 2015. NZVA is working collaboratively with a range of organisations—from the Ministry of Health and Ministry for Primary Industries, to DairyNZ and Pork New Zealand—to promote the responsible use of antibiotics in animals to ensure their continued effectiveness in safeguarding both animal and human health.

“We’ve received strong support for our vision,” Mr Ward said.

“We’re now exploring strategies to address antibiotic resistance; this could be an innovation opportunity for New Zealand—it should be seen in terms of opportunity.

“New Zealand has some of the lowest rates of antibiotic use in animals for food production in the world. We are the third lowest user of antimicrobials globally. But we don’t want to be complacent. It’s important we continue this momentum.”

A 2015 PwC report, commissioned by the NZVA, found that as one of the three lowest users of antibiotics to treat animals in the OECD, New Zealand could increase the value of its exports with reduced-antibiotic livestock systems and scientific innovations.

“Very few public health issues are of greater importance than antimicrobial resistance in terms of their impact on society,” Mr Ward said.

Effective antibiotics have been a key factor in living longer and healthier. Addressing antimicrobial resistance is a community issue and it is being tackling as a community—veterinarians, doctors, farmers, animal owners (pets and equine), and industry stakeholders.

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