Govt bans importation of antibiotics as feed additives
The agriculture ministry has banned the importation of antibiotics as feed additives for poultry and other livestock.
Dr Ann Rose Ademun, the commissioner for animal health, advised farmers to use antibiotics only when necessary (in case of an infection) and for the period prescribed by the veterinary experts.
Veterinary experts say due to widespread misuse of antibiotic drugs, livestock in Uganda are registering increasing levels of antibiotic resistance, whereby they are no longer responsive to the available antibiotic drugs, leading to deaths and causing losses to farmers.
Many farmers have been forced to quit the business.
Ademun said: “One of the biggest abuses we have is that people add antibiotics to animal feeds and feed these animals from day one when the chick is hatched or when the pig is born, so they use them in feeds as additives.
Use antibiotics the way they are prescribed, but not in the feeds; the animals will be exposed to feeds all their life and then the resistance will certainly set in.’’
Speaking at the launch of the 2021 World Antimicrobial Awareness Week at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Wednesday, Ademun said there is no production of antibiotics additives in the country.
She explained that for any additives imported into the country, the ministry will demand a certificate from the manufacturer indicating the ingredients therein.
The move by the ministry follows a recent Sunday Vision’s exposé, indicating that 70% of the chicken in eastern and central Uganda were resistant to antimicrobial drugs.
The resistance to tetracycline alone for chicken from central Uganda was 51% and 55% for those in the east.
The paper quoted Dr Emmanuel Kunobwa, a veterinary officer in Buvuma district, who attributed the non-responsiveness to antibiotics among the infected chicken mostly to over-use of antibiotic drugs.
He explained that antibiotics contain some bacteria programmed to kill infectious bacteria within the livestock suffering from infections, such as cough.
It was stressed that antibiotic drugs are readily available and administered by farmers without prescriptions from experts The International Journal of Veterinary Science and Medicine, volume 9, 2021, points at penicillin, tetracycline and potentiated Sulphonamides as some of the old antibiotics that have existed in Uganda’s market for decades.
Another study published in IntechOpen, an online journal, on November 5, 2018, shows that antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be transferred from poultry products to humans, yet they can as well be transferred from humans to poultry flocks.
Land and water sources can become contaminated with drug-resistant microbes via manure and other farming. byproducts And drug-resistant microbes can subsequently find their way to people and animals through crops, fruits and vegetables grown in contaminated environments.
Globally, 700,000 people die every year from treatable infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that have developed resistance to antimicrobial drugs, according to the World Health Organisation.
During the Kampala workshop, Dr Irene Mbatidde, a graduate fellow at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), said they have launched a study to create awareness about antimicrobial resistance in the poultry value chain in Wakiso and Soroti districts.
Ibrahim Mugerwa from the Ministry of Health appealed to the public to avoid over-the-counter medication, but rather seek qualified consultation for proper diagnosis and treatment of humans and livestock.