November 16, 2017


World Antibiotic Awareness Week: FAO, WHO, OIE call for responsible antibiotic use



In observance of World Antibiotic Awareness Week (Nov. 13-19), the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) are together calling for responsible use of antibiotics in humans and animals to reduce the emergence of antibiotic resistance.


In a release, the three organisations said antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world and threatening man's ability to treat common infectious diseases.


"Infections affecting people…and animals alike are becoming harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat as antibiotics become less effective", the organisations said.


Examples of misuse include taking antibiotics for viral infections like colds and flu, and using them as animal growth promoters on farms or in aquaculture.


Antibiotics can be misused in livestock when used as animal growth promoters on farms or in aquaculture, they stressed.


'One Health' approach


To tackle these problems, WHO, FAO and OIE are leveraging their expertise and working together in a "One Health" approach to promote best practices to reduce the emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant microbes in both humans and animals.


"Antibiotic resistance is a global crisis that we cannot ignore", said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO.


José Graziano da Silva, director-general of FAO, said, "The overuse of antimicrobials blunts their effectiveness, and we must reduce their misuse in food systems". 


He added, "Antimicrobial veterinary medicines are a crucial tool for animal health and welfare and safe food production, but they are by no means the only tool".


The director-general of OIE, Dr Monique Eloit, for her part, said: "Like in human health, veterinary medicine has tremendously progressed thanks to antibiotics. Preserving their efficacy and availability through their responsible use associated with good husbandry and prevention practices, is therefore essential to preserve animal health and welfare".


During World Antibiotic Awareness Week, WHO, FAO and OIE are reaching out to the general public, health professionals, governments, farmers, veterinarians, the food and feed industry and others via a social media campaign using infographics, quizzes, and success stories to raise awareness of the need to act on antibiotic resistance and what kinds of steps they can take.


The main message this year stresses the importance of getting guidance from a qualified healthcare or veterinary professional before using antibiotics to reduce overuse.    


Apoultry farmer in India adds an antimicrobial treatment to
his animals' drinking water to promote growth.  FAO PHOTO