The World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending that farmers and the food industry stop using antibiotics routinely to promote growth and prevent disease in healthy animals.
The new WHO recommendations aim to help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics that are important for human medicine by reducing their unnecessary use in animals. In some countries, approximately 80% of total consumption of medically important antibiotics is in the animal sector, largely for growth promotion in healthy animals.
The WHO message is related to United Nations WHO, World Antibiotic Awareness Week (13-19 November) that kicked off on Monday with the aim to increase awareness on global antibiotic resistance as well as to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.
The theme is Antibiotics: Seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking antibiotics. Only take antibiotics after the prescription by a healthcare professional.
Antibiotics are a precious resource, so it is important to get the right advice before taking them. This not only ensures you and your family get the best treatment, responsible use of antibiotics will also help reduce the threat of antibiotic resistance.
Over-use and misuse of antibiotics in animals and humans is contributing to the rising threat of antibiotic resistance. Some types of bacteria that cause serious infections in humans have already developed resistance to most or all of the available treatments, and there are very few promising options in the research pipeline.
A systematic review published recently in The Lancet Planetary Health found that interventions that restrict antibiotic use in food-producing animals reduced antibiotic-resistant bacteria in these animals by up to 39%. This research directly informed the development of WHO’s new guidelines.
The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), said on Tuesday that according to the WHO, many countries have already taken action to reduce the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals.
For example, since 2006, the European Union has banned the use of antibiotics for growth promotion. Consumers are also driving the demand for meat raised without routine use of antibiotics, with some major food chains adopting “antibiotic-free” policies for their meat supplies.
Alternative options to using antibiotics for disease prevention in animals include improving hygiene, better use of vaccination, and changes in animal housing and husbandry practices.
CPS has already started the process of consultations with essential stakeholders in their respective field with the aim to increase awareness on antibiotics misuse and to develop a legal methodology to prevent antibiotic resistance (AMR).