Written by Barbara Wieland and Chris Pinto
The use of antibiotics in production animals is of great concern for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) experts, international organizations, governmental institutions and the scientific community. To better understand the scale of the problem, researchers from different disciplines are working towards developing data collection tools that capture relevant information about how antibiotics are used in the veterinary and public health sectors.
In October 2018 the CGIAR research program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH)and the CGIAR research program on Livestock, represented by the International Research Livestock Institute (ILRI), the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), organised a joint 2-day workshop in Uganda. The workshop brought together scientists with projects in Vietnam, Uganda, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania and Thailand, working with different tools to gather information about antibiotic use (ABU). The meeting aimed to discuss and analyse ways these data collection tools could be improved or modified towards the development of a harmonised methodology that objectively measures ABU.
Scientists presented an overview of their research, shared their experiences of testing their tools and discussed the potential limitations and advantages of their methodologies. Regardless of the tool used, all tools were able to capture information on use of human drugs for veterinary purposes. However, researchers encountered similar challenges in quantifying the use of antibiotics and drugs in general. Based on the presentations, some key topics emerged and were further discussed in smaller groups resulting in a map that illustrated the complexity around drivers of the use of antibiotics at the farm level and beyond.
The workshop concluded that while having a harmonised tool would be useful for longterm monitoring of antibiotic use, developing a completely harmonised tool for different settings and across public health and livestock sectors will be a huge challenge and might result in too generalised data, losing important information on the local context. The workshop report with more details is available on: https://amr.lshtm.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2018/06/LSHTM-Collecting-ABU-Data-Workshop-Proceedings-Oct2018.pdf
For more information, also check: https://amr.cgiar.org/case-study/collecting-data-antibiotic-use-animals.