The Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) announced its updated codes of professional conduct for veterinary practitioners and veterinary nurses on Wednesday 26 January.
The new regulations signals a positive step forward in the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which is one of the biggest global health threats facing veterinary medicine, Vivienne Duggan president of the VCI said.
The introduction of the revised codes of professional conduct coincides with the introduction of new EU Veterinary Medicine Regulation 2019/6 which comes into effect on 28 January 2022.
The publication of the codes follows a long period of consultation and review and are based on the principles of professionalism and support the high standards within the professions.
They will change the existing rules on the authorisation and use of veterinary medicines in the European Union (EU) and restrict the use of antimicrobials and anti-parasitic medicines, in food-producing animals in the interest of public health and animal health and welfare.
The VCI said that veterinary practitioners must be prudent in discharging the privileged responsibility of prescribing animal remedies.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined the threat of AMR as “a catastrophe that must be managed with the utmost urgency”.
All veterinary professionals in Ireland are bound by the VCI’s code of professional conduct
In animal health, antibiotics are vital “tools” to protect animal health and welfare in both companion and food producing animals, the VCI has said.
Reducing the use of antibiotics in both the human and animal health sectors is seen as a key intervention in tackling AMR and maintaining the efficacy of these medicines.
All veterinary professionals in Ireland are bound by the VCI’s code of professional conduct which sets out the specific requirements which must be satisfied in order to discharge the privilege of prescribing veterinary medicines.
Veterinary practitioners can only prescribe prescription-only medicines, including antibiotics, to animals that are under their care, following diagnosis safely based on a threshold of knowledge of the animal/herd/flock.
The council will continue to ensure that veterinary practitioners are operating at the highest ethical standards
Duggan added: “It is intended that the publication of the revised codes of professional conduct promotes responsible and prudent use of antimicrobials to help limit their usage and in turn, help stem the growing threat of AMR.
“The council will continue to ensure that veterinary practitioners are operating at the highest ethical standards in the interests of animal health and welfare, and public health.”