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Promoting medically, rational and responsible use of antimicrobials

Published: 18 November 2021
Boy on cow with chicken

A recently published policy-brief emphasise the importance of  restrictive use of antibiotics and the global issues concerning anti-microbial resistance. The brief is intended for policymakers among others to get better knowledge. Below is a short summary from the policy brief, first published by CGIAR.

Rising occurrence of anti-microbial use (AMU) is making infections in humans and animals harder or impossible to treat and is threatening gains in key areas of global health, food security, economic growth and development. The global livestock sector is a major user of antimicrobials and contributes significantly to the emergence of antimicrobal resistance (AMR). Improper use of antibiotics, such as use for disease prevention, as growth promoters or without a proper diagnosis, drives AMR development, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Legislation is one tool to address inappropriate AMU but is more effective when combined with capacity for enforcement and strong incentives on the ground to bring about sustainable change.

Growing global anti-microbial resistance is a looming threat that could lead to devastating health consequences and scale back food security, economic and development gains. 

  • Most livestock farmers across LMICs and production systems practice improper use of antimicrobials, resulting in high occurrence of anti-microbial resistance in animals and animal source foods.
  • Livestock keepers and drug retailers in LMICs have limited awareness on AMR, often due to a combined lack of access to knowledge and affordable tools to guide the proper use of antimicrobials.
  • Reinforced legislation alone is insufficient to promote medically rational and responsible anti-microbial use in livestock and to address the rise of AMR.
  • Incentives on the ground are imperative for change and should focus on supporting disease prevention as a means to reduce the need for antimicrobials. This requires increased access by farmers to professional animal health services and affordable veterinary medicines of adequate type and quality.


The AMR agenda requires effective governance and commitments from local, on-the-ground practitioners, to central level policymakers. This may be achieved by combining bottom-up and top-down approaches. The following recommendations have come forward as key to tackle emerging AMR in the livestock sector in LMICs:

  • Support farmers with disease prevention and improved herd health as means to reduce the need for AMU
  • Strengthen the capacity of animal health services in disease prevention and on treating diseased animals in a medically correct way
  • Improve farmers’ access to antimicrobials of adequate type and quality and to affordable professional animal health services for guiding diagnosis and treatment of diseased animals
  • Involve farmers, animal health professionals and other relevant stakeholders in defining locally feasible interventions and targets to refine AMU in livestock
  • Develop affordable and field-adopted assays and tools to guide treatment of animals and evaluate AMU interventions

Read the full policy brief here!