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Rethinking Of Antimicrobial Decision-systems in the Management of Animal Production

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - ROADMAP (Rethinking Of Antimicrobial Decision-systems in the Management of Animal Production)

Reporting period: 2022-06-01 to 2023-05-31

ROADMAP fosters transitions towards prudent antimicrobial use (AMU) in animal production in a large variety of contexts, by favouring a rethinking of antimicrobial decision-systems all along the food supply chain. The project has tried to learn from successful experiences. However, there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to reduce AMU. We should rather develop various strategies working according to local conditions, defined by social, economic, technical and institutional variables.
ROADMAP develops innovative conceptual approaches within a transdisciplinary and multi-actor perspective to engage with animal health professionals, stakeholders and policy-makers. It adapts, combines and produces tailored strategies to reduce AMU in diverse production systems in Europe and low- and middle-income countries (pig, poultry, dairy and cattle). The main objectives of ROADMAP are 1) to understand why and how AMU varies according to local contexts, by studying knowledge, practice and behaviours of farmers, veterinarians and upstream and downstream industries of the food supply chain; 2) to develop innovative socioeconomic and technical instruments to foster prudent AMU adapted to various production systems, by co-designing integrative strategies with animal health professionals and stakeholders; 3) to evaluate ROADMAP solutions and ensure their impact. Innovative communication and dissemination tools are implemented to reach a large community of end-users.
ROADMAP identifies levers and incentives to encourage AMU change, by providing 1) scenarios and recommendations for efficient transitions towards prudent AMU and 2) socially acceptable solutions but also technically and economically feasible. ROADMAP therefore contributes to the fight against antimicrobial resistance by allowing cross-learning from diverse successful experiences, encouraging a harmonization of AMU reduction trends across Europe and thus favouring a global decrease of AMU in animal production.
ROADMAP has started in June 2019 and has been achieved in May 2023. All the reports have been submitted, some results are already published and many more are in progress and excepted in 2024.
The socioeconomic analysis performed in the pillar 1 has identified a large series of levers and opportunities to keep reducing AMU, but has also spotted some weaknesses. We studied the different regulatory systems, the structure of the various antimicrobial-decision systems (showing how many stakeholders do influence AMU – and not just farmers and veterinarians), and we also had a focus on farmers and vets practices. Participative approaches have been implemented through our Living Labs and our impact assessment methods. The Living Labs have had a few months of delay due to CoVid restrictions but finally they all managed to achieve important objectives, in terms of awareness raising, stakeholders engagement and co-construction of solutions and pathways to impact. Regarding the evaluation of our strategies to promote prudent use of AMU, our protocol was strongly related to our Living Labs activities, as we believe that participative methods are also essential to an evaluation that is shared by all stakeholders.
Dissemination and communication activities have also reached important objectives, although they had to be adapted to the Covid restrictions. ROADMAP’s website and social networks have been established since the first year of the project and are working very well. We have been relying on these tools even more according to the circumstances. The SAB has also been consulted on various occasions. A series of materials and communication tools have been produced, such as leaflets and videos to present the project to various stakeholders. Several events have been organised, or co-organised with other relevant projects. The final event in Brussel gathered around 50 people and brought essential discussions and debates for future research.
Project management and supervision went going well, both from a scientific and a financial/administrative point. Extra work has been carried out to manage the CoVid crisis and adapt the project to travel restrictions. Regular meetings with ExCom have been organized to follow up the implementation of the project, seven General Assemblies have been organised (including two additional one in February 2020 and November 2022).
ROADMAP’s ambitious objectives have been achieved. Applying innovative approaches to the topic of AMR has brought substantial results and impact, in particular through the systemic and dynamic framework (food- and drug- chain approach, and transition studies) that we have chosen to bring new light on the AMR issue.
First, we have shown how the structure of food and drug markets is a decisive determinant of antibiotic use (i.e. stakeholders behaviours), as well as the political and institutional factors. Industrial actors, as well as regulatory bodies, have a strong impact on how antibiotics are prescribed, sold and used. It proves that AMR policy should focus more on these levels of the food and drug chain than just the final users. As for farmers and veterinarians, they are very aware of the need to reduce AMU but they integrate this perspective in their own (and variable) professional narratives and experiences, which means that there are different ways of caring, and of being a good farmer and a good vet. The importance of developing and supporting preventive approaches to animal health has also been stressed out. All of this goes beyond the existing literature and will be published in the next months.
Second, the participative approach that we chose in this project also reached great expectations. The Living Labs methodology has brought very innovative outcomes in how engaging with stakeholders and animal health professionals, in a way which is not just a top-down sort of communication which has proved its limits so far. Ex ante impact assessment has been performed in several LLs to co-build transition pathways to prudent AMU that are connected with other important issues depending on local contexts, such as climate change, animal welfare or working conditions of animal health professionnals.
All in all, we believe that the strong potential of the project has been fulfilled, both for scientific and socioeconomic impact. Our three key messages are :
- Systemic improvements drive behavioural change
- Social and economic innovation support technical change
- Tailored solutions allow to take everyone on the journey to prudent AMU