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.

ILRI Asia

A two-year project that will assess veterinary health management and veterinary drug use in Vietnamese pig farms has been launched.

The Health and Antibiotics in the Vietnamese Pig Production Project, known as VIDAPIG, is a collaboration between the University of Copenhagen, the National Institute of Veterinary Research, the National Institute of Nutrition and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

It will carry out research to identify and evaluate factors affecting veterinary health and veterinary drug use with the aim of establishing antimicrobial usage practices that are based on a One Health approach across the smallholder pig sector.

The project will be implemented from February 2018 to January 2020 in Bac Ninh Province.

Inception workshop of VIDAPIG project in Hanoi, 2 March 2018From left: Hung Nguyen, ILRI regional representative for East and Southeast Asia, Anders Dalsgaard from the University of Copenhagen, Pham Thi Ngoc, deputy director of the National Institute of Veterinary Research and Le Danh Tuyen, director…

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A livestock health worker prescribes drugs to a dairy farmer in Bangladesh

A livestock health worker prescribes drugs to a dairy farmer in Bangladesh (photo credit: IFPRI/Akram Ali, CARE Bangladesh).

An opinion piece by International Livestock Research Institute veterinary epidemiologist Delia Grace shines the spotlight on the global challenge of antimicrobial resistance and the need to tackle the problem while finding a balance between low access to antimicrobials (particularly in developing countries) and overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture.

She writes:

“Antimicrobial use is a matter of access versus excess. Somehow, we must reduce the use of antimicrobial drugs in animals to tackle growing levels of drug resistance while ensuring that these life- and livelihood-saving treatments reach those who really need them.”

Read the complete article, Can the livestock sector find the elusive ‘win-win’ on drug resistance? Devex, 16 December 2016

Fishermen and goats at the Niger River

Fishermen and Sahelian goats by the Niger River, in Segou, Mali (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

World Water Week in Stockholm is organized annually by the Stockholm International Water Institute and brings together experts from around the world to discuss pertinent issues around water and development.

At the start of this year’s World Water Week, taking place from 28 August to 2 September 2016, the University of Gothenburg, the Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation convened a seminar on antimicrobial resistance and linkages between humans, livestock and water in peri-urban areas.

Among the speakers at the seminar was Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist and food safety expert at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Her presentation was based on a report published in July 2016 by the Committee on World Food Security High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition. Grace was a member of the project team that wrote the report.

The presentation begins with an overview of the key role of the livestock sector in sustainable agricultural development and the global rise in demand for animal-source food, a phenomenon dubbed the ‘Livestock Revolution’. Some agriculture-associated challenges of livestock production are then discussed; these include antimicrobial resistance, foodborne diseases and zoonoses. Cross-cutting and specific recommendations to address these challenges are then put forward.

View the presentation: Sustainable agricultural development for food security and nutrition: what roles for livestock?

ILRI news

BlakeWilliam_Urizen

Depicted in this watercoloured etching, The Ancient of Days, by William Blake,
is Urizen, a  figure that for Blake embodied reason and law.
Urizen’s outstretched hand holds a compass over the darker void below,
representing an event in the Book of Proverbs,
‘when he set a compass upon the face of the earth’
(image via the British Museum).

This is the first in a series of articles being published by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in the lead up to the High-Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance, which will be held in the margins of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, attended by heads of state and government at the UN’s New York City headquarters on 21 Sep 2016. Global leaders at the summit will commit to leading the fight against antimicrobial resistance, including the all-important resistance to antibiotics. Following statements from the World Health Organisation…

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

Infographic on antibiotic resistance and what steps the agriculture sector can take to tackle this global challenge (credit: World Health Organization).

The Lancet yesterday (18 Nov 2015) published a new series titled Antimicrobials: sustainable access and effectiveness in recognition of the World Health Organization’s inaugural World Antibiotic Awareness Week, 16 to 22 November 2015.

The theme of the global campaign, Antibiotics: Handle with Care, reflects the overarching message that antibiotics are a precious resource and should be preserved. They should be used to treat bacterial infections, only when prescribed by a certified health professional. Antibiotics should never be shared and the full course of treatment should be completed – not saved for the future.

The five papers in the Lancet Series cover access to effective antimicrobials as a global challenge, understanding the mechanisms and the drivers of antimicrobial resistance, maximizing access to achieve appropriate human antimicrobial use in low- and middle-income countries, exploring the evidence base for national and regional policy interventions to combat resistance, and international cooperation to improve access to and sustain effectiveness of antimicrobials.

Accompanying the papers are three comments that discuss achieving the balance between sustainable access and sustainable effectiveness of antibiotics, animal production and antimicrobial resistance in the clinic and national action for global gains in tackling the challenge of antimicrobial resistance.

Timothy Robinson, a scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), is the lead author of the comment titled Animal production and antimicrobial resistance in the clinic. His co-authors are Heiman F.L. Wertheim, Manish Kakkar, Samuel Kariuki, Dengpan Bu and Lance B. Price.

Follow the Twitter conversations at #AntibioticResistance

Cattle in Botswana

A herd of cattle in Botswana. A new report by ILRI identifies key evidence gaps in our knowledge of antimicrobial resistance in the livestock and fisheries sub-sectors in the developing world (photo credit: ILRI).

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites) develop the ability to continue growing in the presence of an antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal or antiparasitic substance to which they were previously sensitive.

The use of antibiotic drugs to prevent and treat livestock diseases is a key driver for the development of agriculture-related antimicrobial resistance which is now a global public health problem as antibiotics in food animals can enter the food chain and affect the health of consumers and communities.

In developing countries, antimicrobial resistant pathogens are commonly found in animals, animal food products and agro-food environments. However, the lack of national surveillance systems means that we do not have reliable estimates of the true burden of antimicrobial resistant infections in developing countries.

In addition to lack of accurate information on antibiotic use in developing countries, there is limited understanding of the sources of antimicrobial resistance in animal agriculture and the relative importance of different sources.

In order to address these concerns, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has this month (June 2015) produced a report which aims to identify key evidence gaps in our knowledge of livestock- and fisheries-linked antimicrobial resistance in the developing world, and to document ongoing or planned research initiatives on this topic by key stakeholders.

ILRI veterinary epidemiologist Delia Grace wrote the report which reviews the knowns and unknowns of

  • the prevalence of antimicrobial resistant infections in livestock and fish systems and products;
  • the health and economic impacts of livestock- and fisheries-linked antimicrobial resistance in the developing world;
  • technical capacity in developing countries to assess antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance in the livestock and fisheries sub-sectors;
  • key drivers of antimicrobial resistance in livestock and fisheries production in the developing world; and
  • modalities of reducing antibiotic use and levels of resistance.

She concludes with a call to address the global problem of antimicrobial resistance through an evidence-based approach which includes filling knowledge gaps, careful piloting of interventions and rigorous evaluation of success and failure.

The report was produced by ILRI for Evidence on Demand with the assistance of the UK Department for International Development contracted through the Climate, Environment, Infrastructure and Livelihoods Professional Evidence and Applied Knowledge Services programme, jointly managed by DAI (which incorporates HTSPE Limited) and IMC Worldwide Limited.

Download the report, Review of evidence on antimicrobial resistance and animal agriculture in developing countries.