Global antimicrobial use in animals on a downward trend

GLOBAL—The application of antimicrobials to support animal health has seen a 27% decline between 2016 and 2018, finds a new report by World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).

WOAH’s Sixth Annual Report on “Antimicrobial Agents Intended for Use in Animals” reports a similar downward trend in the use of antibiotics for growth promotion.

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The WOAH reported that in nearly 70% of the study focus countries, the use of antibiotics in healthy animals to boost growth was no longer a practice

“This is a positive step forward as it shows that a growing number of farmers, animal owners and animal health professionals worldwide are adapting their practices to use antimicrobials more prudently.

These efforts contribute to protecting everyone’s health. But much more needs to be done to preserve our therapeutic options and overcome the spread of infectious diseases,” commented Dr Monique Eloit, director general, WOAH.

The organization said the overuse or misuse of antimicrobials can greatly accelerate Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which can exert selective pressure for pathogens with resistance traits to survive and thrive. “These “superbugs” can then travel through waterways, soil and air, infecting all living beings, regardless of their species, along the way.”

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AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death

An analysis by the University of Oxford showed AMR was directly responsible for an estimated 1.27 million deaths worldwide, and associated with an estimated 4.95 million deaths,

In 2019 and The World Health Organization estimated that without proper policy reforms, 10 million annual AMR-related deaths will occur globally by 2050.

However, the proportion of these deaths linked to antimicrobial resistance in animals still remains unclear, noted WOAH.

As part of its efforts to tackle AMR, the organisation has contributed to the compilation of the Oie List of Antimicrobial Agents of Veterinary Importance, a global database on antimicrobial agents intended for use in animals.

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Notable progress has been made in the phasing out of the use of some high-priority critically important antimicrobial classes such as colistin. as per the data. 

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