RECENTLY the State conducted its first Equine Census while the EU almost simultaneously beefed up its efforts to tackle the growing scourge of antimicrobial resistence (AMR) - a real threat to human health globally.

At first glance, the two may seem unconnected but they are not and while perhaps compliance and co-operation was not as great as it could have been with the inaugural Equine Census, taking a broader view is a worthwhile exercise in connecting the proverbial bigger picture dots.

By endeavouring to build up a comprehensive and up-to-date base on Ireland’s equine population, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine aims to know how many equines exist here, where they are located, who the owners and keepers of them are.

Filling in those blanks on a national basis is essential database information in the event of a serious disease outbreak and one which deserves our collective support.

Teething problems with the online portal did not help some to fill out the form while others simply baulked at sharing their data full-stop, more yet fearing the taxman.

Not all that surprising to see the issue of the Equine Census raised in Dail questions per se, other than it was a former DAFM Minister throwing the dart.

Havoc with health

The fact is that drug-resistent bacteria can and do wreak havoc, causing at least 25,000 human deaths a year and causing serious disease among survivors. Thankfully, there is generally much more awareness of AMR today than before. The overuse or the incorrect use of antibiotics in animals used for food, including horses, must be avoided to protect human health and the human food chain going forward. The more we know about Ireland’s equine population and its health status the better for the collective good, animals and humans.

AMR puts the ‘One Health’ strategy in sharp focus - we are truly all in together and everyone must play their part.