Prof Moritz van Vuuren, Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria’s Department of Veterinary Tropic Diseases is warning that resistance against antibiotics is as challenging as climate change.
“Therefore, it is important to use antibiotics as much as possible, but also as little as possible,” Van Vuuren said at the Red Meat Abattoir Association’s conference being held near Stellenbosch in South Africa’s Western Cape.
A global action plan was also launched for this purpose. South Africa forms part of the plan.
Resistance against antibiotics happens when too much or too little of it is used.
“Antibiotics are the ‘victim’ of its own success,” Van Vuuren said.
Since its development, it has been widely used and has become cheaper. The last antibiotic-type was developed in 1987, which emphasized the need for other types of essential medication for e.g. blood pressure.
“Can’t just be withdrawn”
However, Van Vuuren warned, antibiotics can’t be withdrawn for the use of animal and human health without serious repercussions. This will be a threat to food security.
He said the answer lies in correct usage and to stop using the product after treatment.
Today, it is unethical for a vet to prescribe antibiotics on a large scale. However, farmers will still have access to the medicine for the sake of animal health, but it should be limited to the bare minimum.
Van Vuuren also warns that vets should use as little antibiotics as possible to minimize resistance.