Annual Report, 2022

ANIMUSE: monitoring antimicrobial use in animals

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“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Data scientists’ favourite motto applies to one of the most pressing global challenges of our times: antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In 2022, WOAH launched its new digital platform, ANIMUSE. Its aim: to help curb AMR through better monitoring of antimicrobial use in animals.

In the past decades, a range of bacteria, viruses and parasites have developed a resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines. To make sure these key treatments remain efficient, WOAH is gathering data on the amounts and reasons for antimicrobial use in animals worldwide. This information is an essential asset to reduce overuse and misuse of medication and to curb the spread of AMR.

Since 2015, Veterinary Services from all over the world have been reporting to WOAH  information on antimicrobials use in animals in their country. To facilitate access to this crucial and growing set of information, the database has recently been fully digitalised. In 2022, the new online platform on antimicrobial agents intended for use in animals, ANIMUSE (for ANImal antiMicrobial USE), started to be tested by countries ahead of the public launch, foreseen in 2023. It features easier reporting, error checks, and data visualisation tools to facilitate analysis and communication. Ultimately, it aims to improve practices of the veterinary workforce with regard to antimicrobial use.

Providing user-friendly analysis of antimicrobial use

Dr Carolee Carlson, a veterinarian and epidemiologist for the Public Health Agency of Canada, has participated in the development of the new platform. She was among the first experts to test it and appreciate its benefits. “ANIMUSE will facilitate our work in many ways. It collects enough information to be useful, but not too much to be overwhelming. I can retrieve all the data I uploaded in the past years, compare them, see where Canada ranks and our trends over time. The error detection tool is very precious, particularly for such complex data as these, coming from a variety of sources.”

“The platform is very helpful, because it allows a much faster import and use of the data”, says Dr Slobodanka Božić, WOAH’s focal point on veterinary products for Bosnia and Herzegovina. A former veterinarian in the field, she is now in charge of collecting data on antimicrobials use for the country’s national veterinary office. Dr Božić started uploading data on ANIMUSE in 2022. “The platform is handy to create user-friendly presentations for ministries and other key stakeholders. Our country doesn’t have a national action plan on antimicrobial resistance yet, so better data communication is a key tool to raise awareness on this issue.”

In 2022, WOAH launched a new information portal on antimicrobial resistance on its website. Veterinarians, farmers, stakeholders of the pharmaceutical industry and even the general public can find reliable and actionable information on AMR to help curb it.

Gradual options to foster participation

Ninety-two countries had already reported data on WOAH’s global database on antimicrobial resistance, as of February 2023. The reporting is open to all countries, either WOAH Members or non-members. They can submit general information. And if quantitative information is available, they can choose among three reporting options, according to the degree of detail of their data. A key strength of ANIMUSE is its flexibility, says Dr Carlson. Countries at any level of their surveillance programme can report on the platform. Even if a country’s insight on amounts of antimicrobials used in animals is limited, being able to join the platform fosters discussion and improvement over time.”

Dr Božić started reporting for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018 at option 1. “At the time, I could only report on the general quantity of antimicrobials in use. We started with our imports data, since all antimicrobials are imported in our country. In 2022, I was able to request information from wholesalers and upgrade our reporting to option 3, with much more detail on reasons for use, type of animals and mode of administration of the drugs. It gives us a finer picture of antimicrobial use in our country.”

The use of antimicrobials in animals should always be under the responsibility of a competent member of the veterinary workforce.

A finer picture of antimicrobial use to improve policies

Farm-level data is also available in Canada , including information on doses of medication, duration and reasons for use. “From a stewardship perspective, these data are full of possibilities. For example, if you know a product is used to fight a specific disease, policymakers can rely on this information to consider the development of a vaccine as an alternative to the use of antimicrobial agents. Detailed information is our best asset in the fight against antimicrobial use.”

The ANIMUSE platform will be open to public navigation in 2023.

Joining forces to fight AMR

In November 2022, ministers of Health, Agriculture, and policymakers from all over the world gathered in Muscat, Oman, for the Third Global High-Level Ministerial Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance. Two of the agreed key targets concern exclusively the agri-food sector:

  • Reduce the total amount of antimicrobials used in animals and agriculture by at least 30-50% by 2030, galvanising national and global efforts.
  • Preserve critically important antimicrobials for human medicine, ending the use of medically important antimicrobials for non-veterinary medical use, including growth promotion in animals.

ANIMUSE plays a key role in our support to Members to reach these targets, by helping the veterinary workforce understand and monitor antimicrobial use in a harmonised and comparable way, across time and, eventually, across sectors as well.