The economic impacts of antimicrobial resistance in livestock (EcoAMR)

Close up of a veterinarian preparing a syringe in front of a group of pigs, photo by dusan petkovic/Adobe Stock.

Photo by pressmaster/Adobe Stock

What is the issue?

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) remains a global public health threat with an estimated 4.95 million deaths associated with bacterial AMR in 2019 alone, and the health impact of inaction estimated at 10 million deaths per year by 2050. AMR is a recognised challenge that threatens global health, food and economic security (Gurung et al. 2023; Sharma et al. 2018; Saeed et al. 2022).

The issues around the use of antibiotics in livestock production are complex. Antibiotics play a role in the safe production of affordable food while maintaining good animal health standards. However, many of the pathogens present in animals are also present in humans, and overuse of antibiotics in animals can play a role in developing resistant pathogens that impact on animal and human health. Moreover, practices of using antimicrobials for animal growth further compound challenges.

There has been an increasing interest in the burden of AMR on livestock. The evidence on AMR trends in livestock makes a strong case for AMR to be controlled in dairy, livestock, poultry production and aquaculture as food-producing animals are a main reservoir for zoonotic diseases (Krömker & Leimbach 2017; Kalam et al. 2022; Gilbert et al. 2021; Gurung et al. 2023).

AMR can reduce the efficacy of currently available antimicrobials, resulting in increased treatment failures, severity of infections and reliance on alternatives which may be more expensive or have higher risks of side effects (Magnusson et al. 2021). Inappropriate antimicrobial use creates an environment where resistant bacterial strains can survive, and resistance genes be transmitted (Kalam et al. 2022; Gilbert et al. 2021). Food producing animals exposed to antimicrobials can develop resistance to those therapeutics (Scott at al. 2018; Allel et al. 2023).

More research is needed to facilitate the implementation of One Health AMR research strategies, interventions and policies in different settings. The results will support efforts to combat AMR nationally and regionally (World Health Organization 2023).

How are we helping?

The focus of this work is on understanding the economics of AMR and antimicrobial use in livestock. To address these key objectives, we will undertake a mix of different research methods including literature reviews, expert interviews and mathematical modelling.

The modelling work aims to generate new evidence on the economic pathways and burden of AMR in the food animal production, whilst the literature scoping exercise will provide broad insights on:

  • The mechanisms of AMR in livestock
  • The transmission between livestock and humans
  • The current practices around antimicrobial use
  • The perceived threat and benefit of antimicrobial use and AMR in the livestock community
  • The value and feasibility of interventions to mitigate the effects of AMR and prevent antimicrobial use.

Economic impact is considered through the lens of consumer welfare, GDP, changes in tax income, household income and trade (see figure below).

Figure illustrating how economic impact is considered through the lens of consumer welfare, GDP, changes in tax income, household income and trade.

This project is funded as part of the DHSC-funded Fleming Fund and involves RAND Europe alongside WOAH, IHME/GRAM, CGD, and World Bank.