The Silent Killer Film Thumbnail

A World Animal Protection Film

World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week shines a spotlight on the crucial link between animal welfare and One Health

As the world marks World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week from 18th Nov - 24th Nov

World Animal Protection India launches a documentary film named ‘The Silent Killer: Antimicrobial Resistance or Superbugs’ underscoring the ground reality of antibiotic misuse and experts sharing their views on the pivotal role of responsible animal welfare practices in safeguarding both human, animal and environmental health.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses a growing threat to global health

And the interconnectedness of human and animal ecosystems cannot be overstated. A previous year's theme was, "Preventing Antimicrobials Resistance Together," emphasizing the cross-sectoral collaboration to preserve the effectiveness of antimicrobials.

Unmonitored use of antimicrobials in animals contributes significantly to the development of drug-resistant strains, jeopardizing the effectiveness of treatments for both animals and humans. By promoting responsible and judicious use of antibiotics in agriculture and veterinary medicine, we can mitigate the risk of resistance and preserve these life-saving drugs for future generations.

Image depicting sick perosn in bed with pills on side table

Safeguarding medicine efficacy

The WHO and other intergovernmental public health organizations have also stressed the need to avoid the overuse of antibiotics in humans and farmed animals to safeguard the efficacy of these medicines crucial for human and animal health. Our global study found that more than 80% of global antimicrobials used on farmed animals are not for individual therapies but for prophylaxis or metaphylaxis or to promote animal weight gains. Antibiotic Growth Promoter use is not related to animal health management but to enhance production performances. For this reason, the WHO also suggested its phasing out in the absence of risk analysis.

World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week serves as a vital time to raise awareness about the intricate link between animal welfare and public health. World Animal Protection calls upon stakeholders, policymakers, and the public to join hands in fostering a global commitment to combating antimicrobial resistance, protecting the well-being of animals and humans alike by reducing their meat consumption, and demanding higher welfare products.

“We believe that factory farming is not the solution to feed the world. It is important that the government have strong regulations to control the growth of factory farming systems. The use of antibiotics in animal farming sectors should also be regulated and controlled by the government. Proper animal welfare practices and standards, properly implemented and enforced at ground level proved to make a huge impact to address the whole issue of AMR and superbugs” said Gajender K Sharma, Country Director, World Animal Protection, India.

Mr. Sharma further added that “People have a very important role to play, not only from a consumer's perspective but also as citizens and should start asking questions to their favourite brands about their animal welfare and antibiotic use policies. We would like the consumer to be more mindful and make responsible choices, which will help animals, people, and the planet in the longer run.”

Hundreds of chickens crowded into a factory farm

What are superbugs?

The strains of bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi resistant to antibiotics are called superbugs. It has been estimated that up to 10 million people will lose their lives each year by 2050 due to superbugs. Not only this, we will face a huge economic loss of 100 trillion dollars as estimated by The World Bank.

75% of all global antibiotics are used in farm animals rather than humans, and they are routinely used to prop up low welfare practices on intensive farms. Irresponsible and excessive use of antibiotics in farm animals is causing superbugs to emerge. Superbugs are carried off farms via water, air, workers, insects, wildlife, and meat, reaching humans and causing life-threatening illnesses. The United Nations, the G20, and many world leaders have recognized superbugs as a global health emergency and called for comprehensive actions in human medicine and farming to address the problem.

Treatment of farm animals

Treatment of farm animals is the world’s biggest animal welfare issue – and it’s getting bigger due to factory farming. By 2050, livestock production will be twice what it was in 2000. 

  • Many genetically uniform animals are squashed into stressful, barren environments.  
  • Animals do not have access to outdoors or natural light and are often caged with no room to turn around or lie down and fully extend their limbs, heads, or wings.  
  • These highly stressful conditions can lead to injuries and abnormal behaviors, including biting cages, chewing repetitively until frothing the mouth, pecking feathers etc.
  • The intense stress and crowding naturally hinder the animals’ growth and development and make them susceptible to diseases and infections.  
  • Including regular doses of antibiotics in the feed and water for entire herds or flocks, in addition to injecting drugs at various stages throughout their development, is a low-cost way to keep the highly stressed, immune-compromised animals alive and growing at a fast rate.

How should we use antibiotics?

In Intensive farms, antibiotics are used across groups to prevent these stressed animals from getting sick; they prop us a suffering system for food production.

Antibiotics are life-saving medicines needed to kill bacteria and hence should be reserved for the treatments of humans and animals rather than being used as growth promotors or band-aids to prevent mass herds of animals from diseases.

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