Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2021: Antibiotic use trends in Mozambique’s veterinary sector and efforts to contain it

The country imports most of its veterinary antibiotics from the Netherlands, India, Argentina, South Africa, France and China  

By Fernando Rodrigues, Paula Maria Francisco Maunela
Published: Thursday 18 November 2021

In recent years, the growth and expansion of veterinary activity has been verified throughout Mozambique. This came with the consequent proliferation of establishments that provide veterinary assistance services as well as the sale of veterinary medicines and products due to the increase in livestock numbers, particularly the poultry farming area by the family sector.

This sector has limitations in the observance of Good Production Practices, from the point of view of biosafety in its facilities. Thus, the occurrence of infections is frequent, which requires the use of antibiotics.

The authorisation for the entry of medicines for veterinary use in the country is preceded by the registration of the company at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and application for an import license at the Veterinary Authority. The import of Veterinary Medicines is done by the private sector, following the requirements set out in the specific legislation.

The main international companies supplying pharmaceutical products to Mozambique are Aviourem Specialities Pharmaceuticals, Bayer, Bupo Animal Health, Interchemie Werken, Intervet, Kepro, Kyron Laboratories and MSD Animal Health. 

Most imported antibiotics come from the Netherlands, India, Argentina, South Africa, France and China.

The active principles of the most imported antibiotics are oxytetracycline hydrochloride, sodium sulfadianine, doxycycline hyclate, erythromycin thiocyanate, tylosin tartrate, sodium sulfaquinoxaline, streptomycin sulfate, penicillins and enrofloxacin. All of them are intended for animal use. Oxytetracycline hydrochloride is imported the most.

Regarding antibiotic classes, the largest import is made up of the group of tetracyclines, sulfonamides, penicillins and macrolides.

Classes of antibiotics imported into Mozambique 


                                                 Source: World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

Total active ingredients imported into Mozambique (2018-2020)

                                                                                                            Source: OIE

Efforts to contain use

The country has normative instruments aimed at the control and prudent use of antimicrobials, some of which are in force and others still awaiting approval by competent authorities.

1. National form of veterinary medicines

It is a normative instrument that describes essential veterinary products, designated by the following: 

  • Generic names or international common denomination
  • Recognised pharmacological classification
  • Active principles
  • Route of administration
  • Indications of the target species
  • Dosage
  • Contraindications
  • Side effects 
  • Other important information for the knowledge of users.

Its purpose is to serve as a practical tool for consultation by professionals with a view to the correct administration of drugs to animals.

In general, only medicines, including antibiotics, mentioned in the National Form of Veterinary Medicines may be authorised to be manufactured, imported, distributed and sold in the country. Currently, this form, dated 1986, is in the process of being updated.

2. National action plan against antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

The plan was developed following the “One Health” approach, a multi-sectoral effort among the areas of human, animal, environment, fisheries, agriculture, academic and research institutions, professional associations and cooperation partners.

The vision is to ensure the rational use of antimicrobials in humans, animals and reduce the presence of antimicrobials in the environment. This plan has six strategic interventions to control AMR, through improvement in both prevention and access and use of antibiotics for humans and animals:

  1. Improve awareness and knowledge of AMR, and educate public and animal health professionals
  2. Reduce the incidence of infections through effective vaccination, sanitation, hygiene and prevention as well as infection control
  3. Strengthen knowledge through surveillance, and ensure sustainability through funding and research
  4. Improve access to antibiotics to treat infections
  5. Optimise the use of antibiotics in human and animal health
  6. Change incentives that anchor the overuse of antibiotics and enforce their rational use

An important aspect for the reduction of indiscriminate use of antibiotics is to systematically and continuously strengthen the training of animal health professionals in AMR matters, with an emphasis on antibiotic administration programs combined with rapid diagnostic technologies. It is also important to invest in the vaccination of livestock and in the prevention and control of infections to reduce the consumption of antibiotics.

3. Animal health regulation

In compliance with this regulation, the use of hormones and growth promoters in animal production, including antibiotics, is prohibited.

4. Regulation of drugs, medicines and veterinary products proposal

It provides for aspects related to dispensing, which assumes that drugs, medicines, including antibiotics and veterinary products subject to veterinary prescription and intended for farm animals, can only be dispensed to the public with a veterinary prescription.

Other government efforts

In order to ensure greater technical guidance to breeders who buy medicines, all establishments that sell veterinary medicines, including antimicrobials, must have a technical director, a veterinarian, registered in the veterinary statutory body of Mozambique. 

A One Health Platform was established in the country, with two working groups — one for zoonosis and the other for AMR.. The AMR group is composed of three sub-groups: Prevention and control of infections; optimization of the use of antimicrobials (stewardship); resistance to antimicrobials.

Views expressed are the author’s own and don’t necessarily reflect those of Down To Earth.

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