WHO Asks Farmers to Desist From Using Antibiotics on Healthy Livestock

London, 11th July 2012. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo courtesy of DFID – UK Department for International Development.

Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus demanded that farmers resist using antibiotics on healthy animals in order to promote growth and as a prophylactic measure against infections.

He said that the practice is a serious “security threat,” similar to “a sudden and deadly disease outbreak.” The overuse of antibiotics on livestock has led to an increase in the number of drug-resistant bacteria and an increase in their level of danger to human health.

Ghebreyesus added that the world will have to exert a “strong and sustained action across all sectors” to combat the dearth of effective antibiotics for humans and reverse the trend of bacterial resistance in order to “keep the world safe.”

The UN statement includes the WHO’s strong recommendation of an “overall reduction in the use of all classes of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals, including complete restriction of these antibiotics for growth promotion and diseases prevention without diagnosis.”

Such unrestricted use of antibiotics promotes the creation and spread of dangerous infectious agents known as “superbugs;” bacteria that are resistant to many types of antibiotics of increasingly stronger quality.

The statement also included the assertion that in some countries about 80 percent of all consumption of medically important antibiotics was by animals, most of which are healthy. The drugs are used to promote growth and prevent illness in livestock. The WHO said such use of medically important antibiotics needs to end immediately.

In the case of sick animals, before antibiotics are administered tests should first be conducted to decide what the best treatment is in each specific case. The unrestricted use of important medicine is dangerous and leading the world to an unpredictably dangerous future.

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