THE Australian Veterinary Association and Animal Medicines Australia are joining forces to develop best practice antibiotic prescribing guidelines for livestock and horses.
The announcement coincides with Antibiotic Awareness Week (16-23 November), a global initiative to raise awareness and spur action on antimicrobial resistance.
Graham Catt, CEO of the Australian Veterinary Association, said veterinarians were an important partner in designing and implementing antimicrobial stewardship policies.
"All prescribers, users and suppliers of antibiotics need to work together to manage antimicrobial resistance and extend the usefulness of our lifesaving antibiotics," Mr Catt said.
"We are working in partnership with others to provide easily-accessible, clinically-useful antibiotic prescribing guidelines for all the main species treated by veterinarians in Australia."
Animal Medicines Australia CEO, Duncan Bremner, reinforced Mr Catt's comments, and recognised the work already undertaken by the Animal Health Sector.
"There are already Australian evidence-based guidelines for dogs and cats. With this project kicking off in 2016, we will now also have guidelines for horses, sheep, pigs, poultry and cattle," Mr Bremner said.
"The guidelines will be based on the best available peer-reviewed scientific evidence and will follow responsible prescribing principles."
The Australian Veterinary Association and Animal Medicines Australia identified the need for prescribing guidelines tailored to Australian conditions, production systems and regulatory system for antibiotics.
The need for these guidelines was also highlighted in the National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy released by the Australian Government earlier this year.
"Antibiotic prescribing guidelines for vet practices, livestock and other animal producers will standardise and optimise the use of antibiotics, improving treatment outcomes and minimising resistance in these settings," Mr Catt said.
The development of the guidelines will take three years to complete. The Australian Department of Agriculture has also provided a grant to support the development of the guidelines for pigs.
"Both animal and human health experts play a critical role in preserving these lifesaving drugs for the future. This project will be a significant step to further improve antimicrobial stewardship in Australia," Mr Bremner said.