Why are health experts so concerned about drug resistance?

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The USDA's chief scientist and several scientific and industry organizations took issue with the World Health Organization's recent news release recommending that poultry and livestock producers "stop using antibiotics routinely to promote growth and prevent disease in healthy animals". The Be Antibiotics Aware initiative helps share educational resources to assist health care professionals in improving antibiotic prescribing. Examples of misuse include taking antibiotics for viral infections like colds and flu, and using them as animal growth promoters on farms or in aquaculture.

A systematic review published last week in The Lancet Planetary Health found that interventions that restrict antibiotic use in food-producing animals reduced antibiotic-resistant bacteria in these animals by up to 39 per cent. Millions of people owe their health to the healing power of antibiotics. "Often when you explain all this, people are actually very happy to avoid antibiotic use".

World Health Organization has identified the immediate threat from 3 critical priority pathogens for which there is now limited antibiotic protection that are CRE (Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Carbapenem-resistant) and Acinetobacter (Carbapenem-resistant).

Around the world, many common infections are becoming resistant to the antimicrobial agents used to treat them, resulting in longer illnesses and more deaths.

"By cycling the breakers, it may be possible to extend the useful life of antibiotics".

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Dr John Wyeth from PHARMAC says they are charged with getting the best possible health outcomes for New Zealanders from the public medicines budget - and antimicrobial resistance could undermine that.

While such actions contribute to reducing or preventing animal diseases, their implementation also strongly complement work on food safety, animal welfare, environmental protection as well as the promotion of climate smart practices.

Councillor Sweet added: "In addition, people take antibiotics for mild infections when they don't need to".

The action plan sets out responsibilities for national governments, the World Health Organization (WHO), UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), as well as other national and global partners in responding to antimicrobial resistance. Where they can be bought for human or animal use without a prescription, the emergence and spread of resistance is made worse.

Governments and their citizens must take responsibility when it comes to the use of antibiotics. This also holds true for the animal sector, where antibiotics should mainly be used to treat infection.

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