Low use of antimicrobials and healthy and productive animals - a possible equation?

Antimicrobial resistance is an emerging global threat associated with extensive non-rational use of antimicrobials, it will be shown how the livestock sector can contribute to reduce this threat

Organizers: Swedish Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation; Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU; Swedish International Agriculture Network Initiative (SIANI)

Abstract

Antimicrobials are needed to keep livestock healthy and productive so the sector can provide food for people. However, nonrational use of antimicrobials (AM) in the livestock sector increases the risk for development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). As there is a growing concern worldwide in the health sector about the emergence of AMR worldwide it is essential that the livestock sector take action to reduce the non-rational use of AM. Sweden has the lowest use of AM per biomass livestock and the lowest frequency of AMR in the EU, still with a livestockproductivity similar to other EU countries. This successful pioneer story has been achieved thanks to close cooperation between farmers, animal health service, industry, research institutions and government agencies. Empirically it is known that policies and regulations is not sufficient, this Side Event will discuss how non-rational use of AM can be replaced by biosecurity and other management measures applicable around the world.

Key speakers

Prof Ulf Magnusson Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences 

Vice Minister,  Elisabeth Backteman Ministry of Enterprice and Innovation

Ms Christina Furustam, International Trade Specialist , Federation of Swedish Farmers

Ms Cecilia Nordin van Gansbergeh , Adviser AMR , Ministry of Enterprice and Innovation 

Dr. Juan Lubroth Chief of Animal Health Service and Chief Veterinary Officer, FAO

Ola Möller, Senior Policy Specialist Agriculture, Sida

Main themes/issues discussed

Antimicrobials (AM) are needed to keep livestock healthy, however, non-rational use of antimicrobials in the livestock sector increases the risk for development of antimicrobial resistance, (AMR).  In the health sector there is a concern about the emergence of AMR worldwide.

Sweden has the lowest use of AM per biomass livestock and the lowest frequency of AMR in the EU, maintaining livestock-productivity at the level of the US. This successful case was achieved thanks to cooperation between farmers, animal health service, industry, research and government agencies. This Side Event discussed how non-rational use of AM can be replaced by biosecurity, and high level of animal welfare globally.

Summary of key points

AMR constitute a global threat.

Trade and globalized value chains bring AMR to global attention, putting it on the agenda of the United Nations.  In 2015, The World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) developed a Global Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance. In September 2016 the UN General Assembly made a political commitment to action against AMR by adopting the declaration on antimicrobial resistance. FAO has an action plan on AMR  2016-2020 aiming at supporting the food and agriculture sectors in implementing the Global Action Plan.

Sweden pioneered AMR policy by banning routine use of antibiotics for growth promotion   in 1986. The initiative came from farmers who noticed resistance and got concerned. Today Sweden uses very little antibiotics in its livestock systems and has the lowest levels of antimicrobial resistance in the EU. Reducing the use of antimicrobials and the emergence of (AMR) is an integrated part of effective animal health management.

Key outcomes/take away messages

  • Effective use of antimicrobials improves animal productivity and protects animal welfare 
  • Non-rational use of antimicrobials contributes to emergence of antimicrobial resistance
  • It is possible to maintain good livestock productivity with low use of antimicrobials
  • Regulations of antimicrobial use are important but not enough  particularly in a global context
  • Mitigation of AMR is a public good  
  • It is important to employ the  One health approach, working on the links between human-animal-environmental health 
  • AMR is a global threat. There are, however, ways to deal with this threat. Working together, we can share experience and learn from each other