Date
22 October 2017
File picture of former health minister Dr. Ko Wing-man visiting a chicken farm in Yeun Long. The spread of infectious animal diseases has been traced to improper use of antibiotics in farms. Photo: GovHK
File picture of former health minister Dr. Ko Wing-man visiting a chicken farm in Yeun Long. The spread of infectious animal diseases has been traced to improper use of antibiotics in farms. Photo: GovHK

Action plan launched to regulate use of antibiotics on poultry

The government has launched a five-year action plan to stop farm owners from abusing antibiotics on animals in order to contain the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the city.

The Hong Kong Strategy and Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (2017-2022), which is endorsed by the High Level Steering Committee on AMR, adopts the “One Health” approach recommended by international health agencies, a government spokesman said.

The approach enables multiple sectors to work together and achieve better public health outcomes, particularly with regard to food safety, the control of infectious animal diseases and combatting antibiotic resistance, according to World Health Organization.

Improper use of antibiotics by farms is considered one of the main reasons worsening AMR, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Currently, farms can purchase and possess 20 kinds of antibiotics after they are licensed by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

But on-site inspections in April found that some local farms used rarely seen medicines imported from the mainland, the department said. Samples have been sent to laboratories and the results are pending.

The department said it will probably carry out systematic monitoring of antimicrobial usage in food animal production farms two years later.

For the long term, the action plan states that the government will stop issuing antibiotics permits to farmers and the use of antimicrobials in food animals will be subject to veterinary prescription at an appropriate juncture.

While some farm owners are worried over the lack of veterinary services in the city, Dr. Howard Wong Kai-hay, a former chief veterinarian at the AFCD, said they need not worry because more than 70 overseas veterans come to practice in Hong Kong every year.

Meanwhile, lawmaker Helena Wong from the Democratic Party criticized the government for being misfocused because most poultry products on sale in the city are imported from the mainland but the action plan fails to present any measures to monitor those imports.

Wong suggested that the government notify mainland authorities of the action plan and request mainland farms that supply poultry to Hong Kong to follow the rules in the plan.

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TL/YH/CG

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