The use of antimicrobials in animals across the world has shown an overall decrease of 27% between 2016 and 2018, according to the 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. For long a common way to enhance productivity in animals raised for human consumption, 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,” said Monique Eloit, director general of the World Organisation for Animal Health.
With the aim of monitoring trends in the animal health sector, WOAH launched an annual data collection process in 2015. The initiative has seen steady and increased engagement from the members of the organization, who have improved their capacity to gather and provide more detailed information over time. Despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19, nearly 160 countries have participated in the last round of data collection, and some of them have also published their information on national platforms. It is to date, the most comprehensive set of information available on the use of antimicrobials in animals.
“As the proportion of pathogens resistant to antimicrobials rises, the efforts of the scientific community to accelerate the development of new antibiotics and drugs to tackle ‘superbugs’ should redouble”, said Javier Yugueros-Marcos, head of the Antimicrobial Resistance and Veterinary Products Department of the World Organisation for Animal Health. “Most importantly, we need to see greater use of alternatives, such as vaccines, and promote quick-wins like washing hands with soapy water, and changing clothes and boots before treating or dealing with animals.”
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