Ghana: Media practitioners sensitised on antimicrobial resistance

A two-day workshop to sensitise, educate, enlighten and improve understanding of media practitioners on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and Antimicrobial Use (AMU) has ended in Accra.

Organised jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and the Veterinary Services Department (VSD), participants were drawn from the Sunyani and Dormaa Central Municipalities and Dormaa West District, three areas of high poultry population density in the Bono Region.

The objectives were to check and minimize development, transmission and inappropriate use of antimicrobials in animal production and also unravel farmer field school approach to media professionals and discuss the role of Farmer Field School (FFS) in technology development and dissemination.

The workshop further discussed the role of the media practitioners in advocacy for antimicrobial use behaviour change among farmers and to facilitate effective communication and reporting of AMR and AMU by the media to the public.

It was also designed to demystify AMR issues, which were relatively difficult for non-experts to understand and interpret.

Addressing participants, Dr. William Adukuma, the Chief Veterinary Officer, Veterinary Services Department (VSD) stressed the need for appropriate and responsibly use of antimicrobials and antibiotics to protect and preserve their effectiveness for public and animal lives.

He said there was the need for farmers to administer the correct dose, correct frequency of antibiotics, making sure specific antibiotics are used for the most appropriate purpose.

Dr Adukuma appealed for the formulation of policies to mitigate antimicrobials resistance through development and implementation of clear, data-driven and defensible policies and recommendations, collaborating with stakeholders across animal and human health in one health approach to advance microbial stewardship to protect human and animal lives.

Madam Docelyn Brown Hall, Country Representative of FAO said the Organisation was collaborating with the government through the MoFA in carrying out a comprehensive intervention study on farmers’ behavior in antimicrobial use in poultry production.

She said FFS approach was being used to carry out those intervention strategies with the view to promote ‘learning by doing’.

“The basic principle of FFS is Participatory Technology Development (PTD), where farmers in Dormaa-Ahenkro and Wamfie are raising demonstration birds with strict abstinence from using antibiotics for prophylaxis, growth promotion and as egg boosters. This reduces the risk of AMR as well as cost of production”, she added.

Mad. Hall observed that one of the innovative ways of fast tracking extension delivery school of farmers on FFS was engaging media practitioners, particularly radio broadcast system.

She said through this approach FFS participants would build capacity and equip to share knowledge at FFS sessions with their fellow non-FFS farmers and the public through the local FM stations.

“This same medium can also be leveraged upon to sensitise and educate farmers and public on the Coronavirus pandemic”, she said.

Dr. Kofi Afakye, the National AMR Project Coordinator for FAO noted there was misuse of antimicrobials in the agriculture sector, stressing 60 per cent of poultry farmers gave antibiotics to day old chicks.

Dr. Afakye stated “most Ghanaians used antibiotics when animals were not sick” and attributed the excessive and inappropriate use of antimicrobial to increasing population, more demand for food and pressure on food supply chain, motivation to produce more with limited time and space.

Dr. Yaw Gyekye, the Dormaa Central Municipal Veterinary Officer said his outfit used various channels of communication to sensitise and educate farmers in the area on the appropriate use of antibiotics and other antimicrobials.

He further emphasised the need to ensure balanced ecosystem that guaranteed the sustainable lives of both humans and animals.

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