WHO’S new rules on use of an­tibi­otics in an­i­mals

The East African - - OUTLOOK - By CHRISTABEL LIGAMI Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

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.

Growth pro­mo­tion

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.

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