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Antimicrobial resistance and “the rise of the superbugs” is the topic of the moment here in the UK!

Last week the newly appointed Commercial Secretary Jim O’Neill called on drugs companies to invest £1.3b in new antibiotics, and on May 18 science funders at the Medical Research Council and BBSRC announced £5m in research grants to programmes at the universities of Warwick and Cambridge.

While BMF is supportive of more investment in the antibiotics of the future – as well as work exploring how to boost the efficiency of exiting drugs and battle bacteria at a cellular level – we believe the “back to basics” messages of good hygiene and responsible use of antibiotics are still important – but that we need to find new ways of getting those messages across.

We are urging clinicians on the ground to be more proactive and really “buy into” implementing best practice and client and colleague education, as well as calling for more research into AMR education.

Calling on the vet and medical professions to work towards a new educational approach, BMF adviser and Royal Veterinary College academic David Lloyd said:

“New antibiotics will not appear over-night. In the meantime, we must all stick to the back to basics message of getting doctors and vets to use antibiotics responsibly, educating the public about antibiotic use and maintaining good basic hygiene standards – but vets and medics need to get smarter here.

“Just delivering the same old message on hygiene won’t work – it hasn’t worked – so we need to develop ways of ensuring that good practice is implemented on a daily basis, by busy people.

“This requires medics, vets and their clients to actively buy into the concept. In my view, this requires a new educational approach aimed at both students and practitioners.”

“Persuading clinicians to actually implement guidelines for hygiene and antimicrobial use is difficult and there is a fair amount of research describing failure to implement such guidelines – both in human and veterinary medicine.

“Incentives need to be provided and linked to educational procedures which ensure staff are committed and proactive.

“The Swedes have achieved this by combining dissemination of guidelines with workshops, including in-practice meetings, where staff learn and practice how to optimise antibiotic use.

“In the UK we need to commission new research to examine the different methods of education – including those used by the Swedes – to determine the best approach and then roll this out not just in the UK, where pilot studies could be done, but also in Europe and other regions.”

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