EXCESSIVE use of antibiotics in animals could worsen concerns over antibiotic resistance, warned a top official.
Countries in the Middle East should take measures to curb prolonged use of antibiotics to promote growth in food-producing animals, urged World Health Organisation (WHO) Advisory Group on Integrated Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance, Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses head Awa Aidara-Kane.
She pointed out that antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which is the ability of organisms like bacteria and viruses to stop an antibiotic from working against it, could lead to 10 million deaths per year by 2050.
“Mortality and economic impact from AMR is an ever-expanding concern in the world,” she said.
“By 2050, AMR could lead to 10m deaths per year and it could reflect on a dip in the national gross domestic product (GDP) by two to 3.5 per cent.
“It could cost the world up to $100 trillion, according to studies.”
The visiting expert told the GDN that the extensive use of antibiotics in animals can affect the food chain and thus harm plants, environment and humans.
“Most of the time antimicrobial classes used to treat bacterial infections in humans are also used in food-producing animals.
“Antibiotics are used in the treatment and control of bacterial infection, disease prevention and growth promotion in animals.
“This can result in the spreading of AMR bacteria and resistant determinants in food-producing animals and in turn the food, environment and humans.
“Human health consequences are particularly severe when pathogens are resistant to antimicrobials critically important in humans.
“Overuse of antibiotics in animals, be it for growth promotion or infection control, could heavily add to the AMR concerns.”
She urged countries to follow WHO’s Global Action Plan (GAP) featuring strategic objectives on fighting AMR.
“A widespread exposure of animals and plants to antibiotics and its prolonged use aids the transfer of resistance and thus bacteria (with resistance) may transfer from animals to humans.
“The examples are salmonella, listeria, camoylobacter and Ecoli.
“The GAP involves awareness and understanding of AMR through education and training, strengthening knowledge and evidence base through surveillance and research, reducing the incidence of infection through effective hygiene and optimising the use of antimicrobial medicines in human and animal health.”
Ms Aidara-Kane also said veterinarians and the animal industry should be aware of antimicrobial stewardship and treatment guidelines.
“Food industry policies should be streamlined. For example, MacDonald’s requires suppliers to prohibit the use of antimicrobials for growth promotion in food-producing animals, or any antimicrobial listed by WHO as Critically Important Antimicrobials.”
She also suggested pilot projects specific to the nations in the region.
“The GCC could come up with pilot projects based on surveys and researches with objectives that are specific to their respective countries.
“This will enhance increased awareness and/or commitment for prevention and control of food-borne diseases and containment of AMR.
“This will help in better prevention and control of food-borne diseases including AMR along in the food chain.
“This will also ensure more synergies with other on-going and existing initiatives in the country, besides better detection and early warnings with respect to the ability to identify trends on AMR, and associations between AMR and drug usage in human or animal sectors.”