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Irresponsible use of antimicrobials in livestock could claim millions of lives, Experts warns.

The abuse of antimicrobial drugs which is not restricted to humans but also extends to livestock production has generated a lot of concerns. Scientists have estimated that about 10 million people could die by 2050 as a result of antimicrobial resistance. About 4.1 million of such deaths will occur in Africa.

In commemoration of the 2020 World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW), Farm Alert, a livestock consultancy company organised a webinar meeting to create awareness about the effects of antimicrobial resistance in livestock. Resource persons at the meeting included Dr James Baba Wageti, group sales/marketing manager  of Adamore Nigeria limited, Dr Moses Arokoyo, the country director of Boerhinger Ingelheim, Dr Mikail Audu, General manager of Hybrid feeds, and Mr Innocent Akpabio. These experts were of a consensus opinion that only responsible use of antimicrobial agents can halt the resistance that is on the increase in both animals and humans and which is already consuming lives.

Dr Moses Arokoyo, the country director of Boerhinger Ingelheim identified the indiscriminate use of antimicrobial agents in animals by farmers and some animal health practitioners as the leading cause of resistance. Dr Arokoyo stated that the use of these drugs by farmers as disease preventive measures has brought about a major setback to the livestock industry.

“Poor quality day old chicks produced by hatcheries and poor handling of such chicks by distributors are responsible for infection and death of the chicks when they arrive the farm. Farmers have resorted to using antimicrobials for prevention of such deaths which is not a good practice as such antimicrobials no longer work when you have disease outbreak on those farms”

Dr Arokoyo identified continuous awareness creation for responsible use of antimicrobials by farmers and animal health practitioners as a way of curbing the danger posed by antimicrobial resistance.

The sales/marketing manager, Adamore Nigeria Limited, a leading veterinary pharmaceutical company in Nigeria, Dr James Baba Wageti is of the opinion that unprofessionalism on the part of some animal health workers and self medication by farmers without involvement of qualified health personnel are some of the leading causes of antimicrobial resistance in Africa and Asia. Dr Wageti stated that the poultry business for instance, has continued to be improved upon over the years and many have seen it as a way of making quick money. This has led to the introduction of substandard drugs in the livestock market due to inefficient regulations by relevant authorities.

“Farmers patronize low quality antimicrobial drugs a lot because they are cheap without knowing that they are rather causing problems to the industry and in the long run, endangering the health of people”

The poultry consultant advised farmers to desist from administration of drugs without consulting experienced veterinarians. He called on farmers to embrace proper biosecurity, good hygiene, feeding practices and try to move away from the use of drugs except when it becomes necessarily. This can be achieved by use of natural products such as prebiotics and organic acids which does not constitute much hazards to animal and human health.

On his part, the general manager of Hybrid feeds, Dr Mikail Audu stated that farmers have replaced biosecurity and proper farm management with the use of antimicrobials. They do this even without observing the necessary withdrawal periods. This has brought about a lot of challenges in the livestock industry as the antimicrobials no longer work at the dosages indicated by the manufacturers. Dr Audu called on all stakeholders in the industry ranging from manufacturers of these drugs to animal health workers and farmers to come together in ensuring responsible use of these antimicrobials in order to save lives that are lost on daily basis due to antimicrobial resistance. The doyen of animal nutrition called on farmers to go back to the practice of ensuring effective biosecurity and hygiene on their farms which will reduce the use of antimicrobials.

The 2020 antimicrobial week with the theme “antimicrobials; handle with careis being marked from 18 – 24th November across the globe.  WAAW owes its origins to European Antibiotic Awareness Day, a European Union initiative that started in 2008, and which WHO adopted for Europe in 2012, and later to non-European Union countries. World Antibiotic Awareness Week began in 2015 and became World Antimicrobial Awareness Week in 2020. LIVESTONEWS.

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