Study advocates comprehensive action to curtail unnecessary use of antimicrobials

The report highlights the need for necessary action on farm animals and agriculture which contribute to anti-microbial resistance

By Rajeshwari Sinha
Published: Thursday 19 May 2016

One of the key areas which the report highlights is the need for necessary action on farm animals and agriculture which contribute to AMR
Credit:United Soybean Board/Flickr

A study titled Tackling drug-resistant infections globally: final report and recommendations has been published by the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (RAR), an international commission supported by the United Kingdom government in collaboration with Wellcome Trust.

RAR engages with international stakeholders to understand the global problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and propose solutions to tackle the same.

In view of the growing threat of AMR globally, the study outlines the need for a comprehensive and multi-sectoral action to curtail the unnecessary use of antimicrobials.

In this respect, RAR has focused on some broad intervention areas. These include global public awareness campaigns, the need to improve sanitation and hygiene to reduce bacterial infections, reduce pollution from agriculture, improve global surveillance mechanisms, introduce rapid diagnostic systems and vaccination, increase the number, pay and recognition of people dealing with infectious diseases, develop an innovation fund to promote initial research, generate more drugs and improve incentivisation for promotion of new drugs.

Animals and agriculture

One of the key areas which the report highlights is the need for necessary action on farm animals and agriculture which contribute to AMR.

The study emphasises on the need to reduce the unnecessary use of antimicrobials in agriculture and stop their release in the environment. To achieve this, it is important to develop achievable targets  to reduce unnecessary antibiotic usage in agriculture.

Other measures include immediate action on restriction of highly-critical antibiotics in agriculture (especially last-line drugs for humans) and improved transparency on the part of food producers/retailers on antibiotic usage in food/meat products that can benefit consumers to make purchase decisions.

Antibiotics in the environment

Another significant point in the study is the unregulated release of antibiotics into the environment through animal waste in the form of unmetabolised animal excreta or run-off from food-producing units or animal farms.

The report draws attention to the point that the solution lies in tackling the source of this issue (release of antibiotics in the environment), which is the unrestricted sale and agricultural use of antibiotics as well as its by-products.

Controlling AMR

In the wake of the upcoming 69th World Health Assembly 2016 and the concerns deliberated upon in the Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance published by the World Health Organization, the study is a significant contribution in the ongoing global efforts to control AMR.

Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has been advocating the need to limit the unapproved use of antibiotics in farm animals.

Previously, the CSE had highlighted the indiscriminate use of antibiotics for non-therapeutic uses in poultry farms and the absence of regulations to control such large-scale usage.

The non-profit supports the recommendations made in this direction and calls for increased attention from global bodies on the spread of antimicrobial resistance through animals and their unrestricted spread in the environment.

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