November 19, 2019


FAO pledges support for prudent use of antimicrobials in Africa


The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on November 18 pledged support to improving the prudent use of antimicrobials in Africa's farming systems, Xinhua reported.


Scott Newman, senior animal health and livestock production officer at FAO Regional Office for Africa said the support will help reduce antimicrobial resistance in agricultural systems and the environment.


"The misuse of these drugs, associated with the emergence and spread of antimicrobial-resistant micro-organisms, places everyone at great risk and poses a threat to public health, sustainable food production, and potentially to biodiversity and ecological systems," added Newman.


He said that the sheer magnitude and complexity of the issue of antimicrobial resistance calls for a coordinated and integrated approach, involving public and animal health sectors, agricultural production sectors, and environment and ecosystem sectors.


Newman pointed out that antibiotics in the environment can affect the overall diversity of the microbial community critical for the performance of important ecological functions such as nutrient cycling, decomposition, and primary productivity in both aquatic and terrestrial environments.


He however said that antimicrobials play a critical role in the treatment of diseases of humans, farm animals (aquatic and terrestrial) and plants. "We are supporting responsible use of antimicrobials because their use is essential to food security, human well-being and to animal welfare," said Newman.


He urged African countries to raise awareness on antimicrobials, develop capacity for surveillance and monitoring, strengthen governance and promote good practices in food and agricultural systems including the prudent use of antimicrobials.


Recognising the dangers posed by antimicrobials, FAO, World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Program developed a tripartite work plan on antimicrobials targeting 10 countries including Kenya, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Zimbabwe in support of the Global Action Plan on antimicrobials.