Antimicrobial resistance – a global development threat
Rising levels of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are making infections in humans, animals and plants harder to treat and are threatening gains in key areas of global health, food security, economic growth and development (World Bank). The harmful effects of AMR are disproportionately affecting people in low and middle-income countries where livestock rearing makes a significant and growing contribution to peoples’ livelihoods, nutrition and food (O'Neill). Intervening on antibiotic use in livestock production, a key driver of AMR, is therefore vital and contribute to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Training and interventions on antibiotic use
Interactive 3-day training courses on livestock production with low use of antibiotics were held in Masaka and Kampla districts in Uganda with the participation of animal health professionals, farmers and traders. Lectures and films were combined with groupwork to tease out and exchange local knowledge. Good animal management and disease prevention were emphasized as key features to reduce the need for and use of antibiotics. The training was largely based on the SLU Massive Open Online Course “Efficient livestock production with low use of antibiotics” and a FAO-manual on prudent and efficient use of antibiotics produced by SLU.
A reflection from one of the animal health professionals participating in the Kampala training was:
“More people should be sensitised. I never knew that AMR was such a big problem”.
Other course participants expressed:
“The groupwork helps to appreciate other people’s problems.”
“I interacted more with veterinarians in one day than I have since I started farming 16 years ago.”
The training was followed by co-selection of interventions, currently under testing by farmers and animal health professionals, such as record keeping, restricting access of visitors to farms, vaccination of livestock, and batchwise farming. Promising results are observed in reduced piglet mortality and fewer disease outbreaks, however, additional testing-time is required. Measures agreed to be practical and efficient are planned to be included in future trainings and in a brief manual under development, targeting Ugandan pig and poultry farmers.
Local participation and adaptation to modify antibiotic use
Our training and intervention approach acknowledge that antibiotic use is related to social, economic and structural conditions and that increased knowledge about AMR is insufficient to change practice. Therefore, we apply social learning, using mixed group discussions and participatory selection of interventions that emphasizes the centrality of the local context. We believe that local farmers and animal health professionals are best suited to identify possible targets and to bring about sustainable change of practice to optimize antibiotic use in their livestock.
Written by: Kristina Osbjer, Department of Clinical Sciences, SLU.