Antibiotic Resistance Disproportionately Impacts Vulnerable Populations
Guest Blog: Madeleine Kleven, Safe and Healthy Food Program Associate, Food Animal Concerns Trust.
Antibiotic resistance threatens to overturn much of the health advances of the twentieth century. As resistant bacteria spreads, more people become sick, more people are hospitalized, and more people die. While everyone is likely to get a resistant infection sooner or later, children, the elderly and those who are immunocompromised or suffering from chronic illness are most impacted. Antibiotic resistance makes health disparities worse, compounding problems caused by marginalization.
The primary drivers of the development and spread of antibiotic resistance are the overuse of antibiotics. While there is overuse in both human medicine and animal agriculture, the majority of antibiotics (two thirds of the medically important ones) are used on food animals not for the treatment of sick people. In fact, many of these shared antibiotics are not used to treat animals either, but instead given to healthy animals to prevent illness caused by poor diets, crowded and unclean housing, and early weaning from their mothers. The industrial agricultural system produces unhealthy animals, drives the development of resistant superbugs, and in turn negatively impacts human health. Stopping the spread of resistance that is threatening our health system and impacting our most vulnerable populations requires stopping the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture.