Sheep market in Doyogena, Ethiopia

The intensification of livestock production calls for the development of contextually relevant policy frameworks that mitigate potential human health risks such as antimicrobial resistance and zoonotic diseases, a new expert review paper says.

The review by scientists from the University of Liverpool and the International Livestock Research Institute also calls for better data on the burden of antimicrobial resistance and zoonoses arising from intensive livestock production. This would improve evidence-based approaches and resource allocation towards managing these global health challenges.

The paper, published in the journal Animal (Feb 2021), reviews the drivers of livestock intensification and the negative externalities that may arise from it in terms of antimicrobial resistance and zoonoses.

The authors highlight the need for livestock development plans to incorporate risk mitigation measures, including supportive national policies and development of professional capacity in the veterinary and public health sectors.

Quantifying the burden of animal diseases stemming from livestock intensification, establishing surveillance for antimicrobial resistance and recording the use of antimicrobial products are required to enable governments to appropriately allocate resources to mitigate the twin health risks of antimicrobial resistance and zoonoses, the authors say.

Citation
Gilbert, W., Thomas, L., Coyne, L. and Rushton, J. 2021. Review: Mitigating the risks posed by intensification in livestock production: The examples of antimicrobial resistance and zoonoses. Animal 15(2): 100123.

Photo credit: Sheep market in Doyogena, Ethiopia (ILRI/Zerihun Sewunet)

Landscape in Hoa Binh province, northwest of Vietnam

The World Health Organization has declared that antimicrobial resistance is one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity. It requires urgent multisectoral action in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Improving evidence for action is crucial to tackle this global challenge. The number of interventions for antimicrobial resistance is increasing but current research has major limitations in terms of efforts, methods, scope, quality and reporting.

Moving the agenda forward requires an improved understanding of the diversity and feasibility of interventions, the factors that influence their effectiveness, and the ways in which individual interventions might interact to affect actions against antimicrobial resistance in different contexts.

As part of efforts to strengthen the global governance of antimicrobial resistance, a group of international research experts is advocating for an evidence-based approach to the challenge through the creation of an international One Health platform for online learning that will synthesize the evidence for actions on antimicrobial resistance into a fully accessible database.

The researchers discuss this One Health learning approach to antimicrobial resistance in an article published in Lancet Infectious Diseases (1 Dec 2020), noting that there are currently significant limitations in terms of availability of context-specific evidence on appropriate actions to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

The proposed platform will also offer new scientific insights into the design, implementation, evaluation and reporting of the range of interventions relevant to addressing antimicrobial resistance.

“Fundamental gaps in knowledge hinder action against antimicrobial resistance, but the limitations of research into interventions for antimicrobial resistance serve as even bigger obstacles,” the authors say.

The range of interventions to tackle antimicrobial resistance is wide: from simple actions to complex ones, from regulatory to behavioural approaches, and from those focusing on prevention of infection to those focusing on responsible use of antimicrobials. Therefore, it is crucial to consolidate an evidence-based approach to the challenge.

The authors also note that the open access One Health learning platform will be useful to health-care professionals, public health practitioners, policymakers, industries and consumer groups.

“Ultimately, this will contribute to building societal resilience to this central challenge of the 21st century.”

Citation

Wernli, D., Jørgensen, P.S., Parmley, E.J., Troell, M., Majowicz, S., Harbarth, S., Léger, A., Lambraki, I., Graells, T., Henriksson, P.J.G., Carson, C., Cousins, M., Ståhlgren, G.S., Mohan, C.V., Simpson, A.J.H., Wieland, B., Pedersen, K., Schneider, A., Chandy, S.J., Wijayathilaka, T.P., Delamare-Deboutteville, J., Vila, J., Lundborg, C.S. and Pittet, D. 2020. Evidence for action: A One Health learning platform on interventions to tackle antimicrobial resistance. Lancet Infectious Diseases 20(12): e307–e311.

Photo credit: Landscape in Hoa Binh province, northwest of Vietnam (photo credit: ILRI/Vu Ngoc Dung).

Cattle coming in from the fields in the evening in Lhate Village, Chokwe, Mozambique (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

The current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has brought into sharp focus the interconnectedness of people, animals and the environment and how this can contribute to the spread of disease.

One Health is a concept that recognizes that the health and well-being of people is intricately linked to the health of animals and the environment. For this reason, disease outbreaks are best tackled through a One Health approach that harnesses the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines and sectors. This is especially so for zoonotic diseases that are spread between animals and people. One Health is also useful for addressing other public health issues such as antimicrobial resistance and food safety. 

One Health is not a new concept, but it has become more important in recent years. This is because many factors have changed interactions between people, animals and the environment. These changes have led to the emergence and re-emergence of zoonotic diseases.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has an established record of collaborative One Health research in Africa and Southeast Asia. To mark One Health Day coming up next week on 3 November, we bring you highlights of some One Health research initiatives by ILRI and partners.

Ecosystem approaches to the better management of zoonotic emerging infectious diseases in Southeast Asia

This project worked directly with over 100 actors involved in managing zoonotic emerging infectious diseases across eight multi-disciplinary teams in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The project increased the capacity of researchers and policy implementers to use One Health approaches for better control of zoonotic diseases. The project also produced various research outputs and increased understanding of the teams’ knowledge, attitudes and practice in relation to One Health and how this approach could lead to better health outcomes for people, animals and the environment.

One Health Regional Network for the Horn of Africa

This project aims to improve the health and wealth of the people of the Horn of Africa by developing a regional network of individuals and organizations that can undertake high quality research into the link between people’s health and that of livestock and the environment. The project builds capacity to undertake basic and applied research in One Health through training programs and research placements for both research and non-research staff from participating institutions.

One Health Research, Education and Outreach Centre in Africa

The One Health Research, Education and Outreach Centre in Africa was launched barely a week ago (on 22 October 2020) and is hosted at ILRI’s Nairobi campus. Its goal is to improve the health of humans, animals and ecosystems through capacity building, strengthening of local, regional and global networks and provision of evidence-based policy advice on One Health in sub-Saharan Africa. It has four research themes: control of neglected tropical zoonotic diseases; emerging infectious diseases; food safety and informal markets; and prevention and control of antimicrobial resistance. The centre is currently supporting the Government of Kenya’s national response to the COVID-19 pandemic through COVID-19 testing in ILRI’s bioscience laboratories.

One Health Units for Humans, Environment, Animals and Livelihoods

This project applies a One Health approach to enhance the well-being and resilience of vulnerable communities in pastoralist and agro-pastoralist areas of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. The project brings together professionals in human and animal health and the environment to achieve better access to human and veterinary health services and sustainable natural resource management.

Photo credit: Cattle coming in from the fields in the evening in Lhate Village, Chokwe, Mozambique (ILRI/Stevie Mann)

Open Access Week 2020 banner. Open with purpose: Taking action to build structural equity and inclusion. October 19-25.

International Open Access Week is an opportunity to raise awareness about open access publishing of research outputs to enable their universal online accessibility. Research outputs are wide-ranging and include articles in peer-reviewed journals, books, book chapters, conference proceedings, infographics, presentations, posters, reports, theses and videos.

The theme of this year’s Open Access Week (19–25 October) is ‘Open with purpose: taking action to build structural equity and inclusion’.

The Animal and Human Health program of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) seeks to effectively manage or eliminate livestock, zoonotic and foodborne diseases that matter to the poor through the generation and use of knowledge, technologies and products, leading to higher farmer incomes and better health and nutrition for consumers and livestock.

To celebrate Open Access Week 2020, we bring you a curated selection of recently published open access outputs authored and co-authored by scientists from ILRI’s Animal and Human Health program from across our research portfolio on antimicrobial resistance, food safety, One Health and zoonotic diseases.

Book chapters

  • Bett, B., Randolph, D. and McDermott, J. 2020. Africa’s growing risk of diseases that spread from animals to people. In: Swinnen, J. and McDermott, J. (eds), COVID-19 and global food security. Washington, D.C.: IFPRI. pp. 124–128. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108990
  • Kang’ethe, E., Grace, D., Alonso, S., Lindahl, J., Mutua, F. and Haggblade, S. 2020. Food safety and public health implications of growing urban food markets. In: AGRA, Africa Agriculture Status Report. Feeding Africa’s cities: Opportunities, challenges, and policies for linking African farmers with growing urban food markets. Issue 8. Nairobi, Kenya: Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA): 101–119. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/109386

Peer-reviewed journal articles

  • Ferguson, A.W., Muloi, D., Ngatia, D.K., Kiongo, W., Kimuyu, D.M., Webala, P.W., Olum, M.O., Muturi, M., Thumbi, S.M., Woodroffe, R., Murugi, L., Fèvre, E.M., Murray, S. and Martins, D.J. 2020. Volunteer based approach to dog vaccination campaigns to eliminate human rabies: Lessons from Laikipia County, Kenya. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 14(7): e0008260. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108692
  • Hu Suk Lee, Vuong Nghia Bui, Huyen Xuan Nguyen, Anh Ngoc Bui, Trung Duc Hoang, Hung Nguyen-Viet, Randolph, D.G. and Wieland, B. 2020. Seroprevalences of multi-pathogen and description of farm movement in pigs in two provinces in Vietnam. BMC Veterinary Research 16: 15. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/106618 
  • Kemboi, D.C., Antonissen, G., Ochieng, P.E., Croubels, S., Okoth, S., Kang’ethe, E.K., Faas, J., Lindahl, J.F. and Gathumbi, J.K. 2020. A review of the impact of mycotoxins on dairy cattle health: Challenges for food safety and dairy production in sub-Saharan Africa. Toxins 12(4): 222. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108030
  • Kivali, V., Kiyong’a, A.N., Fyfe, J., Toye, P., Fèvre, E.M. and Cook, E.A.J. 2020. Spatial distribution of trypanosomes in cattle from western Kenya. Frontiers in Veterinary Science 7: 554. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/109133
  • Kiyong’a, A.N., Cook, E.A.J., Okba, N.M.A., Kivali, V., Reuksen, C., Haagmans, B.L. and Fèvre, E.M. 2020. Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) seropositive camel handlers in Kenya. Viruses 12(4): 396. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/107946
  • Long Pham-Thanh, Magnusson, U., Minh Can-Xuan, Hung Nguyen-Viet, Lundkvist, Å. and Lindahl, J. 2020. Livestock development in Hanoi city, Vietnam—Challenges and policies. Frontiers in Veterinary Science 7: 566. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/109404
  • Mitchell, M.E.V., Alders, R., Unger, F., Hung Nguyen-Viet, Trang Thi Huyen Le and Toribio, J.-A. 2020. The challenges of investigating antimicrobial resistance in Vietnam – what benefits does a One Health approach offer the animal and human health sectors? BMC Public Health 20: 213. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/107087 
  • Mutua, F., Sharma, G., Grace, D., Bandyopadhyay, S., Shome, B. and Lindahl, J. 2020. A review of animal health and drug use practices in India, and their possible link to antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control 9: 103. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108734
  • Njenga, M.K., Ogolla, E., Thumbi, S.M., Ngere, I., Omulo, S., Muturi, M., Marwanga, D., Bitek, A., Bett, B., Widdowson, M.-A., Munyua, P. and Osoro, E.M. 2020. Comparison of knowledge, attitude, and practices of animal and human brucellosis between nomadic pastoralists and non-pastoralists in Kenya. BMC Public Health 20: 269. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/107419
  • Wernli, D., Jørgensen, P.S., Parmley, E.J., Troell, M., Majowicz, S., Harbarth, S., Léger, A., Lambraki, I., Graells, T., Henriksson, P.J.G., Carson, C., Cousins, M., Ståhlgren, G.S., Mohan, C.V., Simpson, A.J.H., Wieland, B., Pedersen, K., Schneider, A., Chandy, S.J., Wijayathilaka, T.P., Delamare-Deboutteville, J., Vila, J., Lundborg, C.S. and Pittet, D. 2020. Evidence for action: A One Health learning platform on interventions to tackle antimicrobial resistance. Lancet Infectious Diseases. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/109151

Infographic

  • Grace, D., Alonso, S., Mutua, F., Hoffmann, V., Lore, T. and Karugia, J. 2020. Food safety in Kenya: Focus on dairy. Infographic. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/109143

Presentations and posters

  • Diarra, S., Dione, M., Konkobo-Yameogo, C., Ilboudo, G., Roesel, K., Lallogo, V.R., Ouattara, L. and Knight-Jones, T. 2020. Value chain assessment of animal source foods and vegetables in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: Food safety, quality and hygiene perceptions and practices. Presentation at a project webinar, 20 May 2020. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108633
  • Hung Nguyen-Viet, Unger, F., Hu Suk Lee, Lindahl, J., Thang Nguyen, Bett, B., Fèvre, E., Tum, S., Sinh Dang Xuan, Moodley, A. and Grace, D. 2020. One Health research at the International Livestock Research Institute to address neglected tropical diseases, zoonoses and emerging infectious diseases in Southeast Asia. Presentation at a webinar by the One Health Collaborating Center Universitas Gadjah Mada, ‘World Zoonoses Day 2020: Lessons learned and future directions’, 7 July 2020. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108791
  • Lindahl, J., Mutua, F. and Grace, D. 2020. Livestock interventions in low-income countries: A theory of change for improved nutrition. Poster presentation at the virtual 2020 Agriculture, Nutrition and Health (ANH) Academy Week research conference, 30 June–2 July 2020. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108715
  • Wieland, B., Moodley, A., Mbatidde, I., Ndoboli, D., Tenhagen, B.-A., Roesler, U., Erechu, R., Litta-Mulondo, A., Kakooza, S., Waiswa, J. and Kankya, C. 2020. Mitigating agriculture-associated antimicrobial resistance in poultry value chains in Uganda. Poster presented at the virtual annual planning meeting of the Boosting Uganda’s Investment in Livestock Development (BUILD) project, 10–12 June 2020. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108689

Project report

  • Blackmore, E., Guarín, A., Alonso, S., Grace, D. and Vorley, B. 2020. Informal milk markets in Kenya, Tanzania and Assam (India): An overview of their status, policy context, and opportunities for policy innovation to improve health and safety. ILRI Research Report. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/109797

Research briefs

  • Lam, S., Huyen Thi Thu Nguyen, Hung Nguyen-Viet and Unger, F. 2020. Mapping pathways toward safer pork in Vietnam. ILRI Research Brief 95. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108768
  • Nguyen Thi Thinh, Grace, D., Pham Van Hung, Le Thi Thanh Huyen, Hung Nguyen Viet, Sinh Dang-Xuan, Nguyen Thi Duong Nga, Nguyen Thanh Luong, Nguyen Thi Thu Huyen, Tran Thi Bich Ngoc, Pham Duc Phuc and Unger, F. 2020. Food safety performance in key pork value chains in Vietnam. ILRI Research Brief 94. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108320
  • Pham Duc Phuc, Toribio, J.-A., Ngo Hoang Tuan Hai, Sinh Dang-Xuan, Nguyen Thanh Luong, Langley, S.J., Dunham, J.G., Dinh Thanh Thuy, Dang Vu Hoa, Hung Nguyen-Viet, Grace, D. and Unger, F. 2020. Food safety risk communication and training need of stakeholders and consumers regarding pork value chain in Vietnam. ILRI Research Brief 96. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108769

Videos

Photo credit: International Open Access Week website

A local cattle owner walks his cattle on a rainy day in Hung Yen province, Vietnam (photo credit: ILRI/Nguyen Ngoc Huyen).

The One Health concept promotes the enhancement of human, animal and ecosystem health through multi-sectoral governance support and policies to combat health security threats.

In Vietnam, antimicrobial resistance in animal and human health settings poses a significant threat, but one that could be minimised by adopting a One Health approach to antimicrobial resistance surveillance.

Vietnam is a potential hotspot for the emergence of antimicrobial resistance due to the high burden of infectious diseases that are directly transmissible and that are foodborne, coupled with limited enforcement of regulations to penalise non-compliance, and the relatively unregulated access to antimicrobials for humans and high antimicrobial usage for livestock.

To advance understanding of the willingness and abilities of the human and animal health sectors to investigate antimicrobial resistance through a One Health approach, a recent study published in BMC Public Health (February 2020) explored the perceptions and experiences of those tasked with investigating antimicrobial resistance in Vietnam, and the benefits a multi-sectoral approach offers.

The study used qualitative methods to provide key informants’ perspectives from the animal and human health sectors. Two scenarios of foodborne antimicrobial resistance bacteria found within the pork value chain were used as case studies to investigate challenges and opportunities for improving collaboration across different stakeholders and to understand benefits offered by a One Health approach surveillance system.

Fifteen semi-structured interviews with 11 participants from the animal and six from the human health sectors at the central level in Hanoi and the provincial level in Thai Nguyen were conducted.

Eight themes emerged from the transcripts of the interviews. From the participants’ perspectives on the benefits of a One Health approach: (1) communication and multi-sectoral collaboration, (2) building comprehensive knowledge and (3) improving likelihood of success. Five themes emerged from participants’ views of the challenges to investigate antimicrobial resistance: (4) diagnostic capacity, (5) availability and access to antibiotics, (6) tracing ability within the Vietnamese food chain, (7) personal benefits and (8) Managing the system.

The findings of the study suggest that there is potential to strengthen multi-sectoral collaboration between the animal and human health sectors in Vietnam by building on existing informal networks.

Based on these results, the authors of the study recommend an inclusive approach to multi-sectoral communication supported by government network activities to facilitate partnerships and create cross-disciplinary awareness and participation.

The themes relating to diagnostic capacity show that both the animal and human health sectors face challenges in carrying out investigations on antimicrobial resistance although based on the results, there is a greater need to strengthen the animal health sector.

Citation
Mitchell, M.E.V., Alders, R., Unger, F., Hung Nguyen-Viet, Trang Thi Huyen Le and Toribio, J.-A. 2020. The challenges of investigating antimicrobial resistance in Vietnam – what benefits does a One Health approach offer the animal and human health sectors? BMC Public Health 20: 213.

Photo credit: A local cattle owner walks his cattle on a rainy day in Hung Yen province, Vietnam (ILRI/Nguyen Ngoc Huyen)

Infographic on antibiotic resistance: what the agriculture sector can do (credit: World Health Organization).

Each November, the World Antibiotic Awareness Week is commemorated to raise global awareness of antibiotic resistance and to encourage rational use of antibiotics to avoid further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.

In collaboration with national, regional and international partners, scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) carry out research on antimicrobial resistance at the human–livestock interface. In recognition of World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2019, we highlight some of our recent research outputs on antimicrobial resistance.

For more information, contact Arshnee Moodley (a.moodley@cgiar.org), antimicrobial resistance team leader at ILRI, or visit the website of the ILRI-hosted CGIAR Antimicrobial Resistance Hub.

Photo credit: World Health Organization

Women waiting to fetch water as cattle drink from a water pan in Taita Taveta, Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/ Juliet Kariuki)

One Health Day is a global campaign marked annually on 3 November to bring attention to the need for a One Health approach to address the shared health threats at the human–animal–environment interface.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) carries out One Health research through its Animal and Human Health program which seeks to effectively manage or eliminate livestock, zoonotic and food-borne diseases through the generation and use of knowledge, technologies and products. 

We commemorate this year’s One Health Day by featuring a selection of the program’s recent research outputs on this important topic.

For more information, contact Delia Randolph (d.randolph@cgiar.org) or Vish Nene (v.nene@cgiar.org), co-leaders of ILRI’s Animal and Human Health program.

Photo credit: Women waiting to fetch water as cattle drink from a water pan in Taita Taveta, Kenya (ILRI/Juliet Kariuki)

Open Access logo

Open Access Week is celebrated globally every year during the last complete week of October. To mark Open Access Week 2019, we highlight some recent open access research articles authored and co-authored by scientists from the Animal and Human Health program of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). 

The program seeks to effectively manage or eliminate livestock, zoonotic and foodborne diseases that matter to the poor through the generation and use of knowledge, technologies and products, leading to higher farmer incomes and better health and nutrition for consumers and livestock.

Read about our research on antimicrobial resistance, food safety, One Health and zoonotic diseases from this selection of peer-reviewed, open access journal articles published this year:

For more information, contact Delia Randolph (d.randolph@cgiar.org) or Vish Nene (v.nene@cgiar.org), co-leaders of ILRI’s Animal and Human Health program.

Photo credit: International Open Access Week

Researchers entering sampling data (photo credit: Zoonoses and Emerging Diseases).

In the cities of developing nations, where unregulated antibiotic use is common and livestock jostle with people amid often unsanitary conditions, scientists have found a potentially troubling vector for the dissemination of antimicrobial resistant bacteria: wildlife.

The epidemiological study published in the June 2019 issue of the journal Lancet Planetary Health shows that urban wildlife in Nairobi carry a high burden of clinically relevant antimicrobial resistant bacteria. The research team included scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the University of Liverpool and the Kenya Medical Research Institute, among other research institutions.

Antimicrobial resistance is an increasingly serious threat to public health. Through misuse and overuse of antibacterial medication, more and more of the bacterial diseases that were once easily treated with antibiotics have become drug-resistant; these new strains of old germs require expensive and prolonged treatment at best and at worst can be lethal.

The study deployed teams of veterinary, medical, environmental and wildlife personnel to sample 99 households randomly chosen from Nairobi’s socio-economically diverse neighbourhoods.

The study found higher diversity of antimicrobial resistance in livestock and the environment than humans and wildlife. Rodents and birds were significantly more likely to carry resistance to multiple drugs when exposed to human and livestock waste through poor management practices, a common feature of lower-income neighbourhoods.

“This paper shows that contamination of urban environments with antimicrobial resistance is a serious issue. This is not just specific to Nairobi but findings can be extrapolated to other cities in Africa,” said Eric Fèvre, a joint appointed scientist at ILRI and professor of veterinary infectious diseases at the University of Liverpool.

“We tend to think of antimicrobial resistance in primarily medical terms, of developing new drugs and better using old ones. But we need to take an ecological approach to addressing this threat. Urban cities can address this by better urban planning, better waste disposal, better livestock husbandry practices. This can go far toward disrupting antimicrobial resistance exchange between wildlife, livestock and humans,” said Fèvre.

The lead author of the study, James Hassell, said, “Although we found no evidence to suggest that antimicrobial resistance carried by urban wildlife poses a direct threat to human health, that these animals harbour high levels of resistance to drugs used in human and animal medicine is particularly worrisome. Since wildlife are not treated with antibiotics, this is indicative of how pervasive antimicrobial resistance is in urban environments. Species that move freely across cities and further afield could disseminate resistance acquired in urban areas more widely.”

“We cannot address the rise of antimicrobial resistance without focusing on the environmental, ecological and social settings in which humans exist,” said Hassell.

Citation

Hassell, J.M., Ward, M.J., Muloi, D., Bettridge, J.M., Robinson, T.P., Kariuki, S., Ogendo, A., Kiiru, J., Imboma, T., Kang’ethe, E.K., Öghren, E.M., Williams, N.J., Begon, M., Woolhouse, M.E.J. and Fèvre, E.M. 2019. Clinically relevant antimicrobial resistance at the wildlife–livestock–human interface in Nairobi: An epidemiological study. Lancet Planetary Health 3(6): e259–e269.

Sheep market in Doyogena, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Zerihun Sewunet).

To tackle a growing problem of rising antimicrobial resistance in low- and middle-income countries, CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future, is forming an international hub to help integrate and channel research and development efforts.

The hub, launched on 21–22 February 2019, in Nairobi, Kenya, will be led and hosted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs are among the most important tools available to medical and veterinary professionals for curing human and animal diseases and improving their welfare, yet these drugs are increasingly failing. Development of resistance to these drugs in disease-causing bacteria and other microbes poses a major threat to global development; the World Bank estimates that annual global gross domestic product could fall by more than 1 trillion United States dollars (USD) by 2030 because of it.

While the World Bank also estimates that investments of USD 6 to 8 billion annually could mitigate this loss, at present, it seems the antimicrobial resistance problem will get rapidly worse before it gets better. Large quantities of antimicrobial drugs are used to cure human illness and provide healthy livestock and fish for food.

Though specifics are unknown, use of antimicrobials for livestock and in aquaculture, is rising, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. These antimicrobials are often used in suboptimal ways, such as applying dosages too little to be effective or over too long a time period to be environmentally healthy, or the wrong drugs are used, or antibiotics are used for diseases not caused by bacteria. Humans, livestock and fish excrete these drugs, which leads to environmental contamination, including that of water systems.

Globally, the main driver of the growing incidence of antimicrobial resistance in humans is overuse and misuse of antibiotics in human medicine, which applies selective pressure for resistant pathogens. But antimicrobial use in agriculture to control animal and plant diseases also contributes to this growing drug resistance problem, although experts don’t know the contribution of agriculture to the problem in humans.

The greatest challenges and burdens of antimicrobial resistance will be felt by the poorest in poorer countries. While these countries with their rapidly growing populations face the greatest and rising demand for increased food production, their populations also tend to have poorer access to relevant knowledge, veterinary and health services. The countries face challenges in enforcing regulations and understanding and implementing effective antimicrobial resistance surveillance.

With its mandate to improve the livelihoods of poor people, improve food and nutrition security and improve natural resource management through agriculture and food research, CGIAR is ideally positioned to tackle agriculture-related antimicrobial risks in developing countries and to develop, test and promote solutions to mitigate these risks together with its partners.

Like climate change and malnutrition, two other global challenges CGIAR works to address, antimicrobial resistance challenges us to use evidence and find ways to change the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of people. Any solutions will require combining technical, institutional and policy innovations and leveraging the contributions of different sectors and disciplines, and both public and private actors.

The new CGIAR Antimicrobial Resistance Hub will work to foster learning from past experiences, support research excellence in the global south and ensure a critical mass of coordinated research to find suitable and sustainable solutions. ILRI will be joined in this effort by three CGIAR research programs—Agriculture for Nutrition and Health, FISH and LIVESTOCK—along with three CGIAR centers—the International Food Policy Research Institute, the International Water Management Institute and WorldFish. Together, these seven research programs and institutions with their national partners and partner research organizations outside CGIAR, will support global research efforts among experts the world over—from low- to middle- to high-income countries.

For more information about the CGIAR Antimicrobial Resistance Hub, contact Barbara Wieland at b.wieland@cgiar.org or Delia Grace Randolph at d.randolph@cgiar.org.