Photo: Mikkel Adsbøl

The UN highlights Danish fight against antimicrobial resistance

Thursday 28 Feb 19

In the fight against antibiotic resistance, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, is encouraging other countries to be inspired by Denmark's experience in reducing the use of antimicrobials in pig production.

According to the World Health Organization, antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest threats to human health.

In order to avert problems with the development of resistant bacteria, authorities, researchers and industry in Denmark have collaborated over the last 25 years to control the use of antimicrobials in both humans and animals. They have managed to do so without compromising on animal welfare or production.

A report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO, illustrates how the Danish collaboration succeeded in phasing out the use of antimicrobial growth promoters in pig production and reducing the use of antimicrobials in the treatment of animals.

Research from e.g. the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, into how resistance develops and is transferred, forms the basis for many of the initiatives which the Danish authorities have introduced over the years as well as several initiatives which the industry has implemented voluntarily.

Such initiatives include stopping several types of antimicrobial agents, which are critically important in the treatment of human diseases, from being used in the treatment of pigs. They also include introducing the Yellow Card scheme that requires herds with high antimicrobial consumption to reduce it.

The institute is also one of the partners behind the DANMAP program, which monitors both the use of antimicrobials in humans and animals in Denmark as well as the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance among bacteria in animals, humans and food.

Countries inspiring each other

The FAO has published the report with the stated purpose of showing the kind of results, which cross-sectoral collaboration can achieve.

According to FAO, the only way to tackle the problem of antimicrobial resistance developing and spreading is by countries sharing their experiences to inspire each other.

Read more 

The report is available from FAO’s website: Tackling antimicrobial use and resistance in pig production. In addition to the English version, the report is also available in Chinese and Spanish.

Find more information on antimicrobial resistance and the research carried out by the National Food Institute in an effort to increase knowledge on resistant bacteria and to help fight the development of resistance on the institute’s special topic portal on antimicrobial resistance.

One Health approach

The interdisciplinary approach to reducing the use of antimicrobials in the pig sector is a good example of how to handle problems from a One Health perspective.

One Health is based on the understanding that the disease risks and challenges that arise in the complex interaction between animals, food, people and the environment must be addressed by focusing on all areas across sectors.