VSF International participated to the conference “Antimicrobial resistance in humans and animals in low and middle income countries. How can knowledge and action be strengthened at national level?” held at Wilton Park, UK, on 13 -15 March 2015.
Mario Younan, Regional Technical Adviser of VSF based in Nairobi, contributed with a presentation on Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in pastoralists livestock. Following its intervention, the discussion emphasized the importance of including mobile pastoral livestock systems in any future strategy, also in relation to zoonotic diseases.
In the Great Horn of Africa, where the world largest population of pastoralist livestock is found, veterinary antimicrobials are almost entirely used by semiliterate or illiterate herders, they are used only sporadically and for short time, and are routinely under-dosed. Furthermore, sales of sub-standard and fake drugs to pastoralists are common. Parallel to that, pastoralists often have cheap or free access to human antimicrobials, which are then used on their livestock.
Effective control strategies should take into account all these factors in order to be successful, and must be designed in such way that they can also be applied in extensive mobile production systems. In pastoralists settings, education and training, coupled with mobile technologies and health workers, are crucial to achieve a more reasoned use of antimicrobials. Where the relationship between animals, humans and the environment is extremely close, there is a need to view infection prevention and control in a more holistic manner to acknowledge the ability of resistance to spread through ecosystems and into the food.