Participants at the NIAA Antibiotics Symposium yesterday were separated into more than 15 small groups to identify the most important issues that need to be addressed regarding antibiotic use and resistance (in humans and animals). The top four themes that were collectively identified by participants were:

  • Effective communication (producers, consumers, stakeholders)
  • Research into defining the problem of antimicrobial use and resistance
  • Bring together stakeholders to reach consensus on addressing the problem
  • Education for producers, animal and human medical professionals on judicious use of antimicrobials

What is the ultimate impact we are looking for from addressing these issues? Participants want consensus and collaboration building, improved communication and education, redirecting how we approach medicine and a science-driven decision process. Out of those four, their No. 1 vision going forward was starting with consensus and collaboration.

Important factors include:

  • Effective communication which involves elements such as quality of communication, unbiased messages, transparency, consistency, common definitions and standards and appropriate language based on audience.   
  • Research including practical, implementable results, meaningful research, sources of funding and bias considerations. It is important to know who is doing research and who is setting research priorities.
  • Stakeholder involvement needs to be broad-based and comprehensive groups that can include opposing views, different groups defined and identified, an open dialogue, avoiding bias, blame, and being focused vs. polarized, showing benefits for all concerned. Within stakeholder involvement, there is a need for consensus at higher levels, even if there are disagreements at lower levels, and government action before there is a consensus should be avoided. Some groups will naturally work better with others, some will want to divide. There needs to be a clear goal that first defines the problem, then has a directional vision and time line.
  • Education also needs to be done for health professionals, producers, veterinarians and others. There needs to be clear messages that motivate professionals, producers and consumers and educate them on use, misuse and the global mindset to improve human, animal and environmental health.