The use of antimicrobials in animals across the world declined 27% between 2016 and 2018, according to data reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH, founded as OIE).
Similar progress has been found in the use of antibiotics for growth promotion. The WOAH reported that the use of antibiotics in healthy animals to boost growth is no longer a practice in nearly 70% of the reporting countries.
“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, on the findings of the Sixth Annual Report on Antimicrobial Agents Intended for Use in Animals.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), said the organization, can be greatly accelerated by the overuse or misuse of antimicrobials, 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.”
In 2019 alone, some 1.27 million people died because of antibiotic drug-resistant bacteria, according to a landmark study published in The Lancet. 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 spearheaded the initiative to build a global database on antimicrobial agents intended for use in animals. A report has been published every year since 2016 to provide an analysis for the global understanding of the use of antimicrobials in the animal health sector.
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.
“We are on the right track in the animal sector – we must now seize this momentum and continue to use antimicrobials prudently if we want to preserve their efficacy for future generations,” added Dr Eloit.