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Contact details: 

Jérôme Delamare-Deboutteville ( Post Doctoral Fellow, WorldFish Malaysia.

 Vishnumurthy Mohan Chadag ( Principal Scientist, WorldFish Malaysia.         



       Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), or the ability of microbes to resist the effects of medicines and other chemicals that are used to control them, presents a formidable threat to health and sustainable development. Antimicrobial treatments and medicines are used within human health and in terrestrial and aquatic food production to manage infection and sometimes to improve farm production. AMR is a ‘One Health’ issue wherein the health of people, animals and the environment are interlinked. 

       The development of resistance in one location and in one setting can affect the health of people and animals more broadly. Likewise, efforts to combat resistance require efforts in all areas.  In Bangladesh, the burden of infectious disease is significant across all sectors and there is a need for a joined-up approach to health promotion and to managing AMR risks. Bangladesh’s aquaculture sector experiences a high disease burden with a risk of increased antimicrobial use to manage and prevent diseases. Aquaculture may be a key site for the emergence and transmission of AMR. The risk will relate to a number of issues including disease burden and health management practices; direct and indirect, purposeful and inadvertent use of antimicrobial treatments; feed practices, the use of waste materials and inputs from other farming sectors; transfers of water and so on.  Where recent progress has been made there are also lessons to learn and to share within and outside the country.


Project overview

       The key aims of the workshop were: to share and develop greater understanding of the key practices, disease issues and drivers of resistance risks within Bangladesh and within Bangladeshi aquaculture, to discuss the utilisation of this knowledge in any public/ farmer campaign aiming to raise AMR awareness, and to identify data needs and approaches for future characterisation of AMR issues in Bangladeshi aquaculture. A four-day participatory workshop on modelling of disease and AMR risks was held in Khulna City, Bangladesh, May 2018. The workshop was organised by the project team for Production without Medicalisation (funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council under the cross UK Research Council “Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance” programme).

       The workshop included a range of spokespersons from shrimp, prawn and tilapia farmers, tilapia hatchery owners, government officials, research consultants, academics and Bangladesh’s export aquaculture sector to identify sustainable solutions for managing animal disease without the use of antibiotics. All workshop spokespersons shared a common interest in finding solutions, from the farmers experiencing high crop mortalities and low production to the public health officials engaged in reducing the negative impact of antibiotic use on human, animal and environmental health. During the workshop, people participated in the design of a heuristic model, through which they identified and ranked flows of materials (including pathogens, antimicrobial compounds or their residues), disease stressors, and potential social and economic pressures for antibiotic use. 


Lessons learned

       A “pond system model” was generated including information from the diagrams developed by different groups. Information regarding seasonal changes, the role of local markets and feed types were taken into consideration to create the model. Unstable mud banks, financial constraints, social determinants and biological risks among other factors were identified by participants as the main drivers of disease. For example, the role of frequent credit repayments means farmers need to harvest on a regular basis. This, as well as a high probability of facing disease, means that farmers tend to stock frequently. While this may drive higher disease rates and mortality, farmers felt constrained by the disease and credit situation.

       Once potential sources of infection were determined, drivers of antimicrobial resistance were added to the system. Use of antibiotics in seed hatcheries, poorly labelled medicines, marketing by drug companies, commercial feed, and poultry waste use as fertiliser were amongst the main potential drivers of resistance identified. Potential actions and solutions to prevent these risks were proposed and discussed with relevant stakeholders. From the discussion, potential barriers to proposed solutions emerged as a threat of future interventions. For example, farmers’ fear of financial losses makes them reluctant to stop the practice of frequently stocking fish despite their awareness of the increased likelihood of disease transmission. Interestingly, the encouragement of single stocking may increase the use of antimicrobials as farmers would be more likely to try to rescue the stock to avoid financial losses.



       The results of the workshop highlighted the complexity of aquaculture systems in Bangladesh, and how different factors converge to increase the chances of disease transmission and antimicrobial resistance. If biological, technical and social factors, and the input from relevant stakeholders are not considered, the risk of implementing interventions that do not produce the desired effect increases. In this case, through the discussion and exchange of knowledge and experiences, and considering the voice of relevant stakeholders, potential barriers were also identified. Therefore, a transdisciplinary approach is crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the aquaculture system and to propose integrated solutions. 

       A series of actions, such as increasing the availability of specific pathogen-free seeds, increasing farmer awareness about the risks of disease and antimicrobial use, creating channels where farmers can share their knowledge and have point of contacts to seek information and support, improve management of juvenile stock could contribute to minimize the risk of disease transmission avoiding the undesirable effect of increasing antimicrobial use.


Research impact

       By identifying material flows and systems pressures participants were able to identify cost-effective and achievable interventions based upon farming and commercial practicalities in Bangladesh. Additionally, a series of recommendations for the Bangladesh National Action Plan (NAP) on One Health approaches to AMR would be provided to public policymakers.


Researchers and Participants

       Stephen Hinchliffe1, Charles Tyler1, Nicola Rogers1, Andrea Butcher1, Kelly Thornber1, David Verner-Jeffrey3, David Bass3, Roderick Card5, Kate Newton5, Femi Akinremi6, Vishnumurthy Mohan Chadag2, Jerome Delamare Deboutteville2, Malcolm Dickson2, Meezanur Rahman2, Partho Pratim Debnath2, Siddhartha Kumar Basak2, Md. Azharul Haque2, Dalia Afsana2, Himu Biswas2, Eric Brum7, Mohammad Habibur Rahmen7, Syed Arifuzzaman4, Suhada Mehajabin4, Moshiur Rahman10, Abul Farah Md. Hasanuzzaman10, H. M. Rakibul Islam11, Md. Shariful Islam11, Amal Kanti Roy12, Bipul Kumar Basak12, Md. Alauddin Mollah12,Mohammed Alamgir12,Md. Toufiqul Islam12, MM Iftekhar Hasan12, Shahadat Ali Khan13,  SM Humayun Kabir13.


Fish Industry participants

       Oniket Alam. Managing director and CEO, Fish Island Farms & Hatchery Limited.

       Iqbal Hossain. CEO, Gazi Fish Culture Limited.

       Mr Firoj Khan, President, Jashore Carp Hatchery Association.

       Masud Khan, Owner, NOVA Tilapia hatchery.

       Biddut M Iqbal. Technical Manager, Gazi Fish Culture Ltd. S&M Shrimp Culture Ltd.


Institutions involved

  1. University of Exeter, UK.
  2. WorldFish-Sustainable Aquaculture Program.
  3. Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), AMR Reference Laboratory, UK.
  4. Activity for Reformation of Basic Needs (ARBAN), Bangladesh.
  5. Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA), UK.
  6. Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), UK.
  7. Food and Agriculture Organization for the United Nations (FAO).
  8. World Health Organization (WHO).
  9. Department of Fisheries, Bangladesh and Fish Inspection and Quality control (FIQC).
  10. Khulna University, Bangladesh.
  11. Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI).
  12. Fish Inspection and Quality Control (FIQC), Department of Fisheries (DoF).
  13. Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association (BFFEA).


Research Subject Area(s)

       Aquaculture, Public health, Antimicrobial Usage (AMU).



        These workshops were funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).


More information

  1. ESRC. Preventing antimicrobial resistance in Bangladeshi aquaculture. Available on
  2. Henriksson P.J.G., Rico A., Troell M., Klinger D.H., Buschmann A.H., Saksida S., Chadag M.V. & Zhang W. (2018). – Unpacking factors influencing antimicrobial use in global aquaculture and their implication for management: a review from a systems perspective. Sustainability Science13(4), 1105–1120. doi:10.1007/s11625-017-0511-8.
  3. Ali H., Rahman M.M., Rico A., Jaman A., Basak S.K., Islam M.M., Khan N., Keus H.J. & Mohan C.V. (2018). – An assessment of health management practices and occupational health hazards in tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) and freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) aquaculture in Bangladesh. Veterinary and Animal Science5, 10–19. doi:10.1016/j.vas.2018.01.002.
  4. Hinchliffe S., Butcher A. & Rahman M.M. (2018). – The AMR problem: demanding economies, biological margins, and co-producing alternative strategies. Palgrave Communications4(1), 142. doi:10.1057/s41599-018-0195-4.