GLOBAL – The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI),  an international agricultural research institute, has pinpointed the agricultural sector as the leading contributor to the surge in worldwide antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW), which runs from November 18 to November 24, highlights what the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared as one of the top ten worldwide public health hazards to humanity.

Previously known as World Antibiotic Awareness Week, WAAW has been held since 2015.

A 2019 study found that 4.95 million people died from AMR-related illnesses. Of these deaths, AMR was directly responsible for 1.27 million, more than even HIV/malaria related deaths.

Antibiotic misuse and overuse contribute to the spread of resistant genes and bacteria across species as well as the development of drug-resistant illnesses.

In agriculture, antimicrobials are essential because they treat bacterial plant diseases such as wilts, leaf spots, blights, scabs, and others.

They are considerably more important for animals because they not only improve development and feed efficiency, but also treat and prevent illnesses.

They are transferred from plants and animals to manure, irrigation systems, rivers, lakes, slaughterhouses, and processed foods, where they are then released into the environment.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) asserts that long-term, excessive usage or misuse of these medications reduces food output, which increases farm households’ financial losses and pollutes the environment.

A decline in soil-beneficial microorganisms results from repeated applications of manure or water-containing antimicrobial agents (AMA), which lowers soil quality.

Importantly, bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics can be found in the soil itself.

Antimicrobial resistance has a substantial financial impact on economies. AMR causes protracted sickness, mortality, and disabilities in both humans and animals in the short- and medium-term.

Additionally, it leads to lengthier hospital stays and more expensive medication needs.

Long-term, ineffective antimicrobials endanger the ability of contemporary medicine to successfully treat infections. It also decreases the fertility of soils in agriculture.

WHO launched the Global Antimicrobial Resistance and Use Surveillance System (GLASS) in 2015 to continue filling knowledge gaps and to inform strategies at all levels.

For all the latest food safety news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel.