Antimicrobial resistance has emerged in recent years as a significant public health threat, which requires both an ethical and a scientific approach. In a recent Policy Delphi study, on-farm use of antimicrobials was a key concern identified by veterinary professionals in Ireland. In this case study (the second in a series of three resulting from a research workshop exploring the challenges facing the veterinary profession in Ireland; the other two case studies investigate clinical veterinary services and emergency/casualty slaughter certification) we aim to provide a value-based reflection on the constraints and possible opportunities for responsible use of veterinary antimicrobials in Ireland. Using a qualitative focus group approach, this study gathered evidence from relevant stakeholders, namely veterinarians working in public and private organisations, a representative from the veterinary regulatory body, a dairy farmer and a general medical practitioner. Three overarching constraints to prudent on-farm use of veterinary antimicrobials emerged from the thematic analysis: 'Defective regulations', 'Lack of knowledge and values' regarding farmers and vets and 'Farm-centred concerns', including economic and husbandry concerns. Conversely, three main themes which reflect possible opportunities to the barriers were identified: 'Improved regulations', 'Education' and 'Herd health management'. Five main recommendations arose from this study based on the perspectives of the study participants including: a) the potential for regulatory change to facilitate an increase in the number of yearly visits of veterinarians to farms and to implement electronic prescribing and shorter validity of prescriptions; b) a 'One Health' education plan; c) improved professional guidance on responsible use of veterinary antimicrobials; d) improved on-farm herd health management practices; and e) the promotion of a 'One Farm-One Vet' policy. These findings may assist Veterinary Council of Ireland and other competent authorities when revising recommendations concerning the prudent use of veterinary antimicrobials in farmed animals.
University College Dublin ->