All you need to know about Antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi.

AMR is an increasingly serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society.

Without effective antibiotics, the success of major surgery and cancer chemotherapy would be compromised.

The cost of health care for patients with resistant infections is higher than care for patients with non-resistant infections due to longer duration of illness, additional tests, and the use of more expensive drugs.

Frequently asked questions

  1. What are antibiotics?

These are medicines used to treat bacterial diseases in animals

  1. What is Antibiotic Resistance?

This occurs when the treatment of bacterial diseases in animals no longer responds to the recommended antibiotic treatment.

  1. Are antibiotics used to treat all animal diseases?

No. Antibiotics only treat bacterial diseases and not those caused by other microorganisms like viruses or fungi

  1. What is withdrawal period and when should you observe it when using Antibiotics?

It is the time recommended by the drug manufacturer for the medicine to clear from the body of the animal after treatment and prevent the presence of Antibiotic residues in foods such as milk, meats, and eggs for human consumption.

  1. Why is the resistance to antibiotics a problem?
  • Loss of livelihood due to animal deaths.
  • Loss of productivity due to prolonged sickness in animals.
  • Economic losses due to rejection or condemnation of animals and human beings.
  • The increased cost of treatment in animals.
  1. How does antimicrobial resistance occur?
  • Misuse of antibiotics for the treatment of diseases that are not caused by bacteria.
  • Purchase of antibiotics over the counter without a prescription of a Veterinarian.
  • Poor disposal of expired /unused antibiotics.
  • Poor storage of antibiotics.
  • Through overdosing or underdosing.
  • Use of expired drugs.
  1. What can I do to Prevent Antibiotic Resistance?
  • Observe withdrawal periods before using animal products
  • Administer the full dose to the animals instructed by your Veterinary doctor
  • Always store medicine as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Safe disposal of expired or unused antibiotics


  1. What accelerates the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance?

Antimicrobial resistance occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes. However, the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials are accelerating this process. In many places, antibiotics are overused and misused in people and animals, and often given without professional oversight. Examples of misuse include when they are taken by people with viral infections like colds and flu, and when they are given as growth promoters in animals or used to prevent diseases in healthy animals.

Antimicrobial resistant-microbes are found in people, animals, food, and the environment (in water, soil, and air). They can spread between people and animals, including from food of animal origin, and from person to person. Poor infection control, inadequate sanitary conditions, and inappropriate food-handling encourage the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

  1. Why is antimicrobial resistance a global concern?

New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in prolonged illness, disability, and death.

Without effective antimicrobials for prevention and treatment of infections, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery (for example, cesarean sections or hip replacements) become very high risk.

Antimicrobial resistance increases the cost of health care with lengthier stays in hospitals and more intensive care required.

Antimicrobial resistance is putting the gains of the Millennium Development Goals at risk and endangers the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

This article has been partially adapted from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) website.

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