The message emerging from the “A One Health Approach to Antimicrobial Use & Resistance: A Dialogue for a Common Purpose” symposium, Nov. 13-15, in Columbus, OH, was clear: Antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance are the responsibility of all communities—human health, animal health and environmental health—and solutions will require collaboration of these health communities.
At the end of the three-day symposium, which was coordinated by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA), presenters and participants agreed on numerous points:
- Antibiotics dramatically improve human, animal and plant health, and increase life expectancy.
- Antimicrobial resistance is not going to go away. A historical look at antimicrobial resistance shows antimicrobial resistance is not a new phenomenon but existed before mankind.
- The topic of antimicrobial resistance can be subtle, complex, difficult and polarizing. It is more than science and evidence. It’s about politics, behavior, economics and conflicting opinions.
- Antimicrobial resistance is not merely a consequence of use; it’s a consequence of use and misuse—and each community—animal health, human health or environmental health—is responsible for antibiotic stewardship.
- The finger pointing and blame for antimicrobial resistance need to end. The time has come to work together.
“Finding a solution is not about compromise; it’s about reaching agreement,” stated Lonnie King, dean of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. “We (animal health, human health and environmental health communities) need to focus on interests and not positions and initiate options for mutual gain. We need to find common ground—something we all can agree to when we disagree on other issues.”
Topics addressed by the 13 animal health, human health and environmental health experts during the symposium covered:
- Overview of antibiotic use
- History of antimicrobial resistance
- Antimicrobial resistance surveillance
- Environmental contamination with antimicrobial residues
- Interplay of animal and human antimicrobial resistant populations
- Nationally funded antimicrobial resistance research projects
- Alternatives to antibiotics in agriculture
“The symposium’s four interactive sessions allowed presenters and attendees to provide input to questions that moved the group to consensus,” stated Leah Dorman, co-chair of the symposium, and director of Food Programs at the Ohio Farm Bureau. “In the end, it was extremely evident that the dialogue among the animal health, human health and environmental health communities is critical to a solution.”
“A ‘One Health’ approach is important. Plus, we need think in a much larger dimension,” she said.
Jennifer Koeman, symposium co-chair and director of Producer and Public Health with the National Pork Board, agreed, adding, “It’s about mutual gain and not a victory for any one community.”
Presentations by symposium speakers will be available online at www.animalagriculture.org. A white paper is being developed and will be available online at NIAA’s Web site as well.