01/02/2018 14:54 GMT+7 print

Southeast Asia a 'hotspot' for antibiotic abuse: FAO official

Overuse and misuse of antibiotics in food is rife in Southeast Asia, a Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) official said on January 31, warning of serious risks for people and animals as bacterial infections become more resistant to treatment.

The FAO's Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth issued the warning on the sidelines of an international meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, which focused on antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

He said that threat of AMR was magnified in places, like Asia's megacities, where there was high population growth and intense agriculture development.

Southeast Asia is a hotpot because of the population growth, urbanisation and the production of food, Lubroth said.

A report published on January 29 by the World Health Organisation said that a global surveillance system had found widespread occurrence of antibiotic resistance among 500,000 people with suspected bacterial infections across 22 countries.

Marc Sprenger, Director of WHO's Antimicrobial Resistance Secretariat, said some of the world's most common and potentially most dangerous infections are proving drug-resistant.

A 2016 report by the British government projected 100 trillion USD in losses by 2050 if nothing is done to reverse the trend, and estimated that the annual toll resulting from AMR will climb to 10 million deaths in the next 35 years. Ninety percent of those deaths would be in the developing world, Lubroth added.

He said the FAO advocates educating farmers about the dangers of using antibiotics to promote growth in animals, and stronger enforcement of rules governing food production.