Livestock production is beset by many challenges. Animal diseases, in particular, can lead to reduced production of milk, meat and eggs. In some cases, animal disease infections may result in death, leading to loss of livelihoods for livestock keepers.
Livestock in developing countries suffer a high burden of preventable disease, and this burden is likely to increase as livestock systems become more intensive. Antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs are often used to treat animal disease infections.
However, authors of a study published in March 2015 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) warn that the use of antimicrobial drugs in livestock production could contribute to the spread of drug-resistant pathogens in both livestock and humans, posing a significant public health threat.
The study also projects that by the year 2030, global antimicrobial consumption will rise by 67% and nearly double in Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa.
In light of the global nature of the problem of antimicrobial resistance, the World Veterinary Association and the World Medical Association prioritized the topic during one of the sessions at their global conference on One Health held in Madrid, Spain on 21-22 May 2015. The conference was organized in collaboration with the Spanish medical and veterinary associations.
Over 300 delegates from 40 countries attended the conference which was aimed at achieving stronger collaboration between physicians, veterinarians and all relevant stakeholders to improve various aspects of the health and welfare of people, animals and the environment.
Delia Grace, veterinary epidemiologist and leader of the Food Safety and Zoonoses program of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), attended the conference and presented on antimicrobial use in developing countries, highlighting some results from research by ILRI.
The other conference sessions were on zoonotic diseases, natural disaster management, One Health in food production, and veterinary education of the One Health concept. More information is available in the conference report (PDF).