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App To Monitor Drug Misuse In Animals Developed

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By Juliet Waiswa and Violet Nabatanzi

A lecturer has developed an antimicrobial resistance (AMR) app intended to monitor the use and misuse of antibiotics in animals. 

Antimicrobial resistance happens when germs such as bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them.

With support from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in 2020, Makerere University, the International Livestock Research Institute, and the University of Nairobi embarked on implementing the MAD-tech-AMR project that aimed at providing an information and communication technology (ICT) framework for improved monitoring and control of antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance in livestock in low and middle-income countries.

The app provides information to farmers on how to get information on the best antibiotics.

The farmers will use their mobile phones to access information from the tool and will use it to monitor diseases in animals.

Makerere University lecturer at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biosecurity Dr Lawrence Mugisha, said the tool will also help farmers know the kind of antibiotics on market, how to use it and where they can access it.

According to experts, 80% of Ugandans depend on agriculture and the cost of antimicrobial resistance to the national economy and its health systems is significant, and thus needs urgent attention.

During a stakeholder workshop on October 28, 2022, which brought together stakeholders from the agriculture ministry, poultry farmers and veterinary doctors from the districts of Wakiso and Kampala at the Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health, COVAB was intended to create awareness of the escalating problems of antibiotics misuse.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when some of the germs, which cause infections, resist the effects of the medicines used to treat them. This may lead to ‘treatment failure’, or the inability to treat the cause of the infection.

Mugisha said the project, which will run between 2020 and 2023, will assess if veterinary telemedicine, coupled with ICT systems, can change antimicrobial resistance and provide added value to the stakeholders involved.

The project will be piloted in poultry production systems in Kenya and Uganda.

If successful, the concept can be upscaled for continuous antimicrobial resistance, monitoring and improving animal health.

“As a research team, we are going to monitor diseases at a farm level and we are going to start with poultry,” Mugisha said.

The project is being piloted in Wakiso with 20 poultry farmers, 20 vet doctors and after three months, the college will give feedback before rolling it out.

Veterinary telemedicine

Prof. Susanna Sternberg, an epizootiology and disease control professor from the Swedish University of Agriculture Sciences, explained that the three-year project would assess if veterinary telemedicine, coupled with ICT systems can change antimicrobial resistance and provide added value to the stakeholders involved.

“The platform registers drug purchases and a database to monitor drug sales. It will be developed along with a mobile application for animal health advice and information about the management of animal diseases,” Stermberg said.

Nairobi University lecturer Absolomon Wanguru, who innovated the app, said it will be free of access to the farmers, but a small fee will be charged to other stakeholders such as the government ministries as it rolls out.

Drug resistance in humans too

Dr Henry Kajumbula from Makerere University College of Health Sciences said misuse of medicine is not only in animals but in human beings too.

Kajjumbura said the treatment of human beings and animals has become difficult due to the high drug resistance.

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