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From left to right: Francesca Martelli - Lead Scientist for Bacterial Diseases and Food Safety (APHA), Kitty Healey - Head of Surveillance Division and Head of Antimicrobial Resistance (VMD), Gavin Hall - Director of Authorisations & Deputy CEO (VMD), Dav

From left to right: Francesca Martelli - Lead Scientist for Bacterial Diseases and Food Safety (APHA), Kitty Healey - Head of Surveillance Division and Head of Antimicrobial Resistance (VMD), Gavin Hall - Director of Authorisations & Deputy CEO (VMD), Dav

APHA And VMD Weybridge Buildings ‘go Blue’ For World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week

6 months ago

25th November, 2023 10h46


The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) have lit up their headquarters in Weybridge, Surrey to raise awareness of World AMR Awareness Week (18 to 24 November). 

World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week is a global campaign to raise awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and encourage responsible use of antimicrobials to avoid the emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections.   

As part of the campaign leading global animal and human health organisations are encouraged to ‘Go Blue’ by ‘wearing’ the colour on social media, at events and on buildings.

AMR occurs when bacteria, and other microorganisms, develop a resistance to antimicrobial drugs, such as antibiotics, making them less responsive or unresponsive to treatment. This means infections become difficult or impossible to treat, increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death. 

AMR is one of the greatest global human health challenges of our time, as well as affecting animal and plant health and spreading through the environment. Addressing AMR requires a joined-up approach across these different areas – commonly known as a One Health approach. 

APHA works jointly with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, both based on the same site near Weybridge, to monitor bacteria in food-producing animals for AMR and provide the surveillance data presented in the annual Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance Report. The UK’s AMR surveillance schemes support the National Action Plan for AMR, detect emerging threats and inform policy development. APHA also provide advice and expertise to vets, farmers and industry groups supporting them to reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance.  

The VMD leads on AMR issues related to animal health and is responsible for coordinating implementation and delivery of the UK’s cross-government 5-year AMR national action plan across veterinary medicines, animal health, environment, and food. 

Animal and Plant Health Agency’s CEO, David Holdsworth said:

“APHA has a long history of working on antimicrobial resistance in the animal health sector and has been partnering with the VMD for many years to tackle this important global challenge. 

“I am proud of our important work on this issue, and it is fantastic to see our flagship building lit up in blue as part of World AMR Awareness week to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance.”  

Abi Seager, CEO, Veterinary Medicines Directorate

“VMD are pleased to be a part of this global initiative of ‘going blue’ to raise awareness of AMR to keep antibiotics working for future generations.

“We are delighted that our recent UK-VARSS report showed that antibiotic use in animals has reduced by 59% since 2014, accompanied by an overall decreasing trend of resistance.”

Kitty Healey, Head of AMR at the Veterinary Medicines Directorate said:

“AMR affects us all, and we must continue to work together to reduce its the development and spread.

“We all rely on antibiotics at some point in our lives, and it is our shared responsibility to look after these precious medicines.”

APHA is a World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) Reference Laboratory for antimicrobial resistance and works jointly with the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and the VMD to support AMR capacity-building globally.

This collaborative expertise was recognised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 2019 when the centre became the first to be designated as a ‘FAO Reference Centre for AMR’. Under this designation, these agencies have engaged with 23 lower- and middle-income countries across Africa and Asia, providing training, expert advice and support to build capacity to tackle the threat of AMR. This collective designation has been renewed by FAO until 2027.

Wider APHA work on AMR includes working with international partners in their home laboratories to develop their AMR capacity, hosting visitors at UK facilities, supporting the development of a global community of AMR leaders and experts, training scientists, and helping to build One Health partnerships for action on AMR. Earlier this year, the UK FAO Reference Centre hosted the first annual congress of FAO AMR Reference Centres at APHA Weybridge site to discuss priorities for addressing AMR in agrifood systems and areas for future collaboration. 

In 2020, to strengthen surveillance of AMR in support of the UK National Action Plan, APHA introduced an additional gold standard ‘broth microdilution’ test method to generate antibiotic susceptibility results for key veterinary pathogens. This is used alongside whole genome sequencing. 

To ensure APHA continues to provide world-leading research and expertise, government is investing in new science laboratories at APHA’s site near Weybridge in Surrey, including £1.4bn of funding for the Science Capability in Animal Health Programme. The investment is in recognition of the vital work APHA does to contribute to our economic and food security. 

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