February 18, 2019
45 countries continue to use antibiotics for animal growth, OIE report states
Warnings from health experts and bans have failed to deter farmers in 45 countries from using antibiotics to support animal growth, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
The development, announced on February 14, is based on data obtained from 155 countries between 2015 and 2017 for an OIE update on the use of drugs in livestock farming. Among these countries, 12 are revealed to be still using colistin as a growth promoter. The antibiotic is part of the five classes of medicines identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "highest priority critically important antimicrobials." Such antibiotic and antimicrobial drugs can only be used as last resort measures to treat infections.
Of the 45 countries which still continue the practice of antibiotic use for growth promotion, 18 are in the Americas; 14 are in Asia and Oceania; and 10 are in Africa, the OIE report stated.
While the number of countries involved in using antibiotics for growth promotion presents a serious problem in the form of antibiotic resistance, it is actually a drop since the last round of data collection in which 60 countries were reported to have engaged in the practice.
Nevertheless, there is "still... a long way to go" to stop the unnecessary use of antibiotics for livestock farming, said WHO's director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.