WHO’S new rules on use of antibiotics in animals
THE WORLD Health Organisation is urging farmers and the food processors to stop using antibiotics routinely to promote growth and prevent disease in healthy animals.
Director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus said that there was a need for strong and sustained action “to turn back the tide of antimicrobial resistance and keep the world safe.”
A systematic review published recently in The Lancet Planetary Health found that interventions that restrict antibiotic use in foodproducing animals reduced antibiotic-resistant bacteria in these animals by up to 39 per cent. This is the research that informed the development of WHO’S new guidelines, through which it aims to help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics that are important for human use, by reducing their unnecessary use in animals.
In some countries, about 80 per cent of the consumption of antibiotics is by animals, largely for growth promotion in healthy animals. Sick animals should be tested to determine the most effective and prudent antibiotic to treat their infection.
WHO’S new guidelines build on decades of expert reports and evaluations of the role of agricultural antibiotic use in the increasing threat of antibiotic resistance. They contribute directly to the aims of the Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance adopted by the World Health Assembly in 2015 and the Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Antimicrobial Resistance adopted in 2016.
Many countries have started reducing the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals. Consumers are driving the demand for products processed without the routine use of antibiotics, with some food chains adopting “antibiotic-free” policies for their meat supplies.