The World Health Organization (WHO) recently talked about the increasing use of antibiotics in animals. It reported that in some countries, about 80% of antibiotics use is on animals.
This is mostly done to prevent them from certain diseases, increase their mortality rate and to enhance their growth mechanisms and body weight. However, this practice has grown to such a level that now it’s proving to be a serious threat to human health.
Judging by the current scenario, the WHO has now released new recommendations to reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics in animals and to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics that are important for human medicines.
The WHO also reported that the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in animals and humans is contributing to the rising threat of antibiotic resistance. According to WHO, some types of serious bacteria have already developed a sense of resistance to most of the treatments available.
The WHO has firmly restricted the use of antibiotics for growth promotion and disease prevention without a proper diagnosis. It has declared that ill animals should only be provided with the most efficacious antibiotic for the specific infection. Dr. Tedros Andhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO, pointed out, “Strong, sustained action across all sectors is vital if we are to turn back the tide of antimicrobial resistance and keep the world safe.”
What is the scene in other countries?
While the USA, China, Spain, and Cyprus use a shockingly high amount of antibiotics, there are countries like Canada, Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark which are concerned about the prevalent antibiotic use.
In 1986, Sweden became the first country to regulate the withdrawal of antibiotics used in animals and by 2009, Swedish sales of antibiotics were reduced from 45 tons to 15 tons.This was followed by Denmark and Netherlands as well.
Not only this, but the Canadian Medical Association has decided to restrict access and availability of these antibiotics by recommending that they can be used by veterinary prescription only. Thus, these countries are taking remarkable steps to curb this practice and it’s important for other countries, especially the Superpowers, to learn lessons from them and take an immediate action as well.
A look at the world data
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has reported that the most demanded types of antibiotics differ by region. For instance, tetracyclines and macrolides accounted for about 60 percent use in America and 22 percent use in Asia. US and China livestock consume approximately 10,000 tons of medically important antibiotics per year.
This number is more than twice the amount consumed by humans. Antibiotic usage in Cyprus is eight times more the recommended limit. It uses 430mg of antibiotics per kilo of livestock. Cyprus is followed by Spain, Italy, Hungary and Portugal with a usage of 350mg, 300mg, 250mg, and 200mg respectively.
Where does India stand?
India isn’t any less when it comes to the usage of antibiotics. India is the fourth largest consumer (82.1%) of antibiotics in animal food production globally.
Two-thirds of poultry farms in Punjab use antibiotics for growth promotion. Out of all antibiotics used in the livestock in India, quinolones are projected to see the biggest increase, 243 percent.
In rural India, the consumption of mutton, beef, chicken, and pork has more than doubled between 2004 and 2011. According to the 61st and 68th rounds of National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data, it has gone up from 0.13kg per capita per month to 0.27kg.
Urban India has seen a rise from 0.22 kg to 0.39 kg in the same period. If the concerned authorities do not step in, 4,796 tons of antibiotics will be fed to animal by 2030. In 2013, this number was 2,633 tons.
Why It Should Be Stopped
It is extremely crucial to entirely ban the usage of antibiotics in animals because it is increasing health hazards at alarming rates.
One of the reasons as to why this problem is being neglected is because of low farmer and customer awareness. If both are made aware of the serious consequences of these antibiotics, their usage can drop.
Increasing use of antibiotics is also reducing treatment methods for humans and is also equally harmful for animals as it changes their initial body mechanisms. It is necessary for the Governments to set a proper limit on the usage and to pay more attention towards the health of animals as well.
The Logical Indian Take
The Logical Indian believes in the peaceful co-existence of animals and human beings on planet Earth. Any health hazard which is capable of eradicating lives needs to be tackled instantly.
However, the governments across the world are lax about the gravity of this problem. We hope that necessary actions are taken both at the global and at the level of the country.