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New plan to tackle antibiotic resistance
The plan includes a commitment to further reduce the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals by 25 per cent between 2016 and 2020.

Government to further reduce use of antibiotics in livestock 

Health secretary Matt Hancock has announced a new plan to tackle the threat of antibiotic resistance.

The plan, launched at the World Economic Forum at Davos, sets out how the UK will achieve its new 20-year vision for a world in which AMR is contained and controlled.

Among its ambitions include a commitment to further reduce the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals by 25 per cent between 2016 and 2020, with objectives to be refreshed by 2021.

In a press release, Defra said that responsible antibiotic use in livestock and fish farmed for food remains an important part of the “One Health” approach to tackling antibiotic resistnce. It added that while sales of veterinary antibiotics have fallen to their lowest levels in 25 years, it is important that this progress is consolidated for the future.
 
“Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem. It not only affects human health, but threatens animal health and welfare and food security. Resistance occurs everywhere that bacteria are found: in people, in animals and in the environment,” said environment secretary Michael Gove.

“Our cross-government vision sets out how we will continue to lead this global fight and build on our already considerable achievements in reducing veterinary antibiotic use. We will also be looking to deepen our understanding of how human, animal and farming activities can affect antimicrobial resistance.”

UK chief vet Christine Middlemiss added: “Any time an antibiotic is used in any species, bacteria present can develop resistance to that antibiotic. Misuse or unnecessary use risks resistance development with no health benefits. However, when used properly, antibiotics are an important tool to protect and enhance animal health and welfare.

“We are working closely with the livestock sector and the veterinary profession and had already reduced by 2017, the sales of veterinary antibiotics by 40 per cent - down to the lowest levels seen since we started these records in the 1990s.  
 
She continued: “The success of this work has driven a culture change of responsible prescribing and farming practices. We will continue to develop our partnerships with the veterinary profession and animal industry to meet the high expectations we have set ourselves in this new strategy.”

The plan also includes world-first target to cut the number of resistant infections, and a target to reduce the use of antibiotics in humansby a further 15 per cent.

It also calls on the pharmaceutical industry to take more responsibility for antibiotic resistance. A new payment model will be explored, which could mean that pharmaceutical companies are paid based on how valuable their medicines are to the NHS, rather than just how many are sold.

It is hoped that this would encourage companies to develop drugs that will treat high-priority resistant infections.

Mr Hancock said: “As health secretary responsible for one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world, I could not look my children in the eyes unless I knew I was doing all in my power to solve this great threat. When we have time to act. But the urgency is now.
 
“Each and every one of us benefits from antibiotics, but we all too easily take them for granted, and I shudder at the thought of a world in which their power is diminished. Antimicrobial resistance is as big a danger to humanity as climate change or warfare. That’s why we need an urgent global response.”

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Public urged to provide homes for swifts

News Story 1
 The RSPB is calling on the public to help provide new homes for swifts, as figures show the birds' numbers have fallen to less than half what they were 20 years ago.

Swifts arrive in the UK late April-May and can spend up to three months in the country. The RSPB attributes the birds’ decline to modern buildings, which lack the nooks and crannies they need to build nests.

While some house builders have agreed to integrate swift homes into new buildings, the RSPB believes more can be done to help this incredible bird. 'Just, 1,000 additional new nest boxes could make a difference’, the charity said.  

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News Shorts
Detection time for omeprazole reduced to 48 hours in racehorses

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced that the detection time for omeprazole has been reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours. This is effective from 1 February 2019.

Omeprazole can be prescribed for the management of gastric ulcers in racehorses; however, studies have recently become available that show no direct effect of omeprazole on performance.

Tim Morris, the Authority’s Director of Equine Science and Welfare, commented: “Medication control in horse racing is essential to allow treatment for good welfare but also to ensure fair racing by medication withdrawal before racing. Trainers have asked for more information, especially on anti-ulcer medications, and we have used existing information to make a harmonised detection time for omeprazole available as soon as we could.”