This year, World Antibiotic Awareness Week will run from 12 – 18th November. Every November, World Antibiotic Awareness is celebrated globally.
The main aim is to increase global awareness of Antibiotic resistance. It is also celebrated in order to encourage best practices of use of antimicrobials among the general public, health workers and policy makers.
Antibiotics in endangering life
The inappropriate and widespread use of antibiotics in animals and humans poses a growing threat of antibiotic resistance that is widely recognized as a major global public health problem. Increasing antibiotic resistance has the potential to endanger both human and animal health on a global scale.
It is estimated that up to 40-80% of antibiotics used on farm animals is unnecessary or highly questionable. The high use and lack of adherence to recommended withdrawal periods of the antibiotics often leads to detectable and high levels of residues in meat, which is later consumed by humans.
Exercising responsible use of antibiotics
Responsible use of antibiotics means that animals should be treated when sick, which may require treatment not just of sick animals but of their whole group, to ensure disease does not spread. This treatment should be done once the offending organism has been isolated and identified in a laboratory.
It also means that antimicrobials should not be used as growth promoters, or on a routine basis (including repeated prophylactic use) to enable animals to be kept in poor welfare conditions.
The veterinary profession must play the important role of ensuring that antibiotics are used responsibly and following international guidelines to safeguard animal health and welfare. All use of antibiotics for animals should be under the direct supervision of a veterinarian.
Government role in ensuring proper use of antibiotics
The government also has a huge role to play. It should ensure the production of policies and measures aimed at reducing the use of antibiotics on animals by promoting higher welfare systems in the livestock industry.
Animal welfare organisations such as World Animal Protection have been at the forefront in pressurizing the stake holders to come up with such animal favourable policies that ensure responsible use of antibiotics.