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Publication
29 September 2016

Antimicrobial Use in Livestock in Low-Income Countries

This policy brief identifies and explains the main reasons behind the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) associated with improper use of antibiotics in the livestock sector. Focusing on the low- and middle- income country setting, this brief provides recommendations for a deliberated policy strategy aimed to prevent healthcare crisis that could happen as a result of AMR.

Since their discovery in the late 1920s, antimicrobials have been vital tools for both human and animal healthcare. However, the surge in resistance against antimicrobials in recent decades has had serious consequences for our ability to treat infections. The emergence of resistant bacteria is directly linked to inappropriate use of antimicrobials. Currently only a handful of countries have monitoring systems for distribution and use of antibiotics in place; in many countries the use of antibiotics remains uncontrolled and unregulated.

Livestock sector is the biggest consumer of antibiotics. Bearing in mind the global rise in demand for animal sourced foods, the amount of antibiotics used for meat and dairy production is likely to increase. Although antibiotics may be essential in order to maintain health and productivity of livestock, more and more scientists agree that the use of antibiotics in livestock production risks increasing antimicrobial resistance in human pathogens, posing considerable threats to and increasing the costs of our healthcare.

This brief walks readers through the reasons why livestock sector uses antibiotics, brings some statistics about the use of antibiotics in livestock production globally and explains why the use of antibiotics is only likely to increase as low- and middle- income countries step up their economic development. The authors also discuss the risks related to inappropriate use of antibiotics in livestock production, paying particular attention to AMR in low- and middle- income countries. Lastly, the brief offers steps for livestock management that can help to reduce the use of antibiotics, while maintaining productivity.

Would like to know more?

Gain insights into the international policy process around AMR with this Q&A.

Review videos and presentations from our event about AMR and linkages between humans, livestock and water.

Save the date! Anti-microbial resistance in livestock in low income countries

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