“By 2030 New Zealand will not need antibiotics for the maintenance of animal health and wellness,” according to New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) President Dr Steve Merchant.
Around 70% of human infectious diseases, including meningitis, anthrax and salmonellosis (food poisoning) have come from animals. “With sharply increasing levels of resistance to antibiotics worldwide, we want animals and, by extension, humans to enter the ‘post-antibiotic’ era as safely as possible”, Merchant commented.
Dr Merchant said this is a significant undertaking, requiring considerable teamwork and commitment from the veterinary profession, working with the medical, scientific, government and relevant primary industry sectors. He described the prize as “enormous” for New Zealand and the world. “Given the wide acceptance that the future for antibiotics is limited, and the close links between animals, humans and the environment we share, achieving this goal is essential,” Dr Merchant said.
He further added: “New Zealand is well suited to this challenge; given our size, proximity of the various specialities and relevant industry sectors, and already low use of antibiotics. Achieving this goal will require a concerted international collaborative effort involving attitudinal and behavioural change across government, research, human health professionals, pharmaceutical companies, and a range of associated industries – as well as the public.”