Paris (France), 7 September 2023 – Global antimicrobial use in animals has declined by 13% in 3 years1, marking again a significant shift in the continuous efforts to preserve the efficacy of these critical medicines.
Antimicrobial drugs, such as antibiotics, paved the way for better living conditions for humans and animals. Prior to the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928, infections due to minor cuts could lead to bloodstream infections or death. Yet, today, these life-saving drugs are losing their efficacy due to their misuse and overuse in different sectors. The phenomenon is known as ‘antimicrobial resistance’. It can originate in animal, human or plant populations, and then pose a threat to all the other species.
In this context, monitoring how, when and which antimicrobials are used becomes critical to identify patterns and trends. Ultimately, this can facilitate decision-making and support the implementation of measures to ensure an optimal and sustainable use of these key medicines.
As the global authority on animal health, WOAH has been collecting information on the use of antimicrobials in animals since 2015. A report has been published every year to provide access to this crucial and growing set of information and has highlighted steady efforts in the animal health sector worldwide. For instance, the latest report, which has been recently released, also showcases a decline in the use of antimicrobials considered to be of critical importance for human health.
Less than 20% of antimicrobials used in animals in 2019 were of highest priority and critical importance for human health2 .Collective efforts towards responsible use across all sectors are of utmost importance considering that these medicines are the sole therapy or one of few alternatives to treat life-threatening human diseases. It is important to highlight that, in the same year, an estimated 4 million human deaths were linked to antimicrobial resistance3.Dr Javier Yugueros-Marcos, Head of the Antimicrobial Resistance and Veterinary Products Department, WOAH.
Going further in the fight against this threat to global health, WOAH has recently fully digitalised its global database into an online platform: ANIMUSE. This new system facilitates open access to global and regional data in an interactive way, while also featuring easier reporting, error checks, and data visualisation tools for Members providing the information.
A key strength of ANIMUSE is its flexibility. 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 Carolee Carlson, veterinarian and epidemiologist for the Public Health Agency of Canada
In a world where the development of a new antibiotic demands over a decade of dedicated effort and an investment of 1 billion dollars, it becomes everyone’s responsibility to make sure that our current antibiotic arsenal remains effective for generations to come. The global health community must continue to champion this cause to safeguard tomorrow’s health.
1 According to data reported to WOAH by the 80 participating countries that consistently provided antimicrobial quantities in animals from 2017 to 2019.
2 According to data on antimicrobial classes reported for use in animals by 110 participating countries in 2019.
3 Murray CJL et al. The Lancet 2022, Vol. 399, Issue 10325. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(21)02724-0.
WOAH works across borders to foster a One Health approach to global health. We recognise that the health of animals and the environment strongly depend on human activities. Their health determines our health, it’s everyone’s health.