"DART 2020" continues the German Antibiotic Resistance Strategy

The Federal Cabinet adopted DART 2020, the new German Antibiotic Resistance Strategy, on 13 May 2015. This continues and reinforces the efforts initiated in 2008 to fight antibiotic resistances.

Antibiotic resistances are a serious problem. They make bacterial infections far harder, or even impossible, to treat as the antibiotics lose their effectiveness. This results in longer and more serious bouts of illness and disease and may lead to premature fatalities. Fighting antibiotic resistance is therefore very important.

DART 2020 is geared towards preventing the occurrence and spread of antibiotic resistances. It provides for various measures to be carried out in parallel in human and veterinary medicine.

Animals and humans are often infected by the same pathogen and treated with the same anti-biotics. The occurrence and spread of antimicrobial resistances can only be contained success-fully if a multi-sectoral approach is taken. DART 2020 therefore focuses on implementing the One Health approach. DART is a joint strategy of the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG), the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The aims of DART 2020

Strengthen the One Health approach nationally and internationally

The competent federal ministries will cooperate in an inter-ministerial working group to reduce antibiotic resistances in human and veterinary medicine and will revise the research agreement on zoonoses. The federal ministries will support the relevant international organisations in fighting antibiotic resistances worldwide.

Recognise the development of resistances early

Monitoring systems will be expanded to recognise new pathogens and resistances early and to obtain representative data for the whole of Germany which will then be available to the re-search community as well. This will enable therapy and hygiene recommendations and tar-geted prevention strategies to be developed in good time.

Maintain and improve therapy options

The monitoring system on the use of antibiotics will be expanded. These data will form the foundation for intervention measures at national level. Concepts will be developed for draw-ing up and using guidelines.

Interrupt chains of infection early and avoid infections

Diagnostics will be improved in human and veterinary medicine and the implementation of hygiene measures promoted. Animal-husbandry methods must be optimised in this regard.

Promote awareness and strengthen skills

Targeted information must be provided to impart knowledge and skills both to the population and to doctors, veterinarians and members of other health professions. This information can play a pivotal role in containing the spread of resistant pathogens.

Support research and development

All corresponding research areas in human and veterinary medicine will be strengthenend and interdisciplinary research projects boosted, from basic research and research on the occurrence and spread of resistances to the development of new diagnostics and pharmaceuticals.

"DART", the German Antibiotics Resistance Strategy - veterinary section

In addition to human medicine, other potential causes of antimicrobial resistances being transmitted to people include animal husbandry, food chains and veterinary practices.

The BMEL has, as the ministry competent for consumer health protection, developed the strategy for this area and introduced it into DART, the German Antibiotic Resistance Strategy.

Use of antibiotics

Infectious diseases and local bacterial processes (e.g. abscesses) or septicaemia (blood poi-soning) are of great importance to both animal health and human medicine. Additionally, in-fectious diseases cause serious economic damage in agricultural livestock populations. The use of antibiotics serves not just to cure animals but also to prevent pathogenic bacteria from being transmitted from animals to people (zoonoses). This benefits people that come into contact with animals (e.g. farmers and their families, but also, for example, dog owners and their families) and also consumers of foods and other products originating from animals. The food chain is based on the principle that healthy food can only be obtained from healthy animals.

For many years the BMEL has been advocating applying a stricter technical standard for the use of antibiotics. Antibiotics must only be used for animals if there is a therapeutic reason for doing so. The spread of antibiotic resistances can only be contained if care is taken when using antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine.

Approval of antibiotics

The statutory approval procedure for antibiotics intended for use on animals, a procedure that is regulated throughout the EU, examines the potential formation of resistances. This applies to

  • animal pathogens (bacteria that make animals ill);
  • zoonotic pathogens (bacteria that migrate from animals to people and can make people ill);
  • commensals (non-pathogenic bacteria from normal flora).

The aim is also to prevent any development of resistances in humans via the ingestion of food of animal origin that contains antibiotic residues. This aspect is taken into account in setting substance-related maximum residue levels (MRLs) in accordance with Regulation (EU) No. 470/2009 and Regulation (EU) No. 37/2010.

In addition to this, the approval process for veterinary medicinal products intended for use on food-producing animals provides for a waiting period that is based on the maximum level and on a scientifically robust safety margin; this waiting period must be complied with following the treatment of an animal. This ensures that residues in foods of animal origin do not impair human health. Compliance with the waiting periods is monitored under the National Residue Control Plan and infringements are traced and punished.

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