Antibiotic Resistance of Concern Amongst Veterinarians in South Africa
Mr Simbai Allen Maruve was awarded a Master’s in Medical Sciences (Pharmacology) with distinction for his study on the knowledge, attitudes and practices of veterinarians on antibiotic resistance.
Inappropriate use of antibiotics in the veterinary sector has contributed to antibiotic resistance (ABR), negatively impacting animal health and indirectly, human health which is of global concern.
Maruve is a member of UKZN’s Antimicrobial Research Unit and was supervised by the South African Chair of Antibiotic Resistance and One Health, Professor Sabiha Essack. The study was conducted with members of professional veterinary associations and assessed their knowledge, attitudes, and practices with regard to antibiotic use and ABR. Maruve said: ‘My prior degree was a Bachelor of Veterinary Science. Through my work, I realised that the effects of antibiotic resistance are already evident in animals and human beings as seen in non-healing infections with prolonged treatment and high treatment costs. I hope that my work will be of assistance in curbing the global problem of antibiotic resistance.’
The study found that the respondents’ knowledge of the pharmacology of the drugs, antibiotic stewardship and antibiotic resistance mechanisms was excellent. More than half the respondents were confident that the veterinary training they received adequately prepared them for rational antibiotic use. Most believed that antibiotics were sometimes prescribed for suspected but not confirmed infections. The study also found that the majority of the respondents were very concerned about antibiotic resistant infections.
Maruve’s study was conducted amongst veterinarians based in both rural and urban settings. The uniqueness of the various settings produced varying results in terms of knowledge and discussions held on ABR. Veterinarians in urban practice were more knowledgeable about ABR than those in rural practice. More veterinarians in rural practice frequently carried out discussions on ABR with their clients as opposed to their urban counterparts.
Recommendations from the study include the need for education and training to address gaps in knowledge and practice. ‘There is also a need to develop and implement antibiotic stewardship programmes in veterinary practice. This would cover the approaches necessary to ensure antibiotics' efficacy by optimising antibiotic use, antibiotic choice, and administration route while reducing the emergence of antibiotic resistance. Cost-effective diagnostic tests with shorter turnaround time will assist in achieving this. The programmes will encourage microbiology informed therapy and the use of guidelines for appropriate antibiotic use,’ said Maruve.
Maruve who enjoys watching medical documentaries and playing soccer plans to pursue a PhD in Pharmacology. Essack congratulated Maruve, saying: ‘His study is particularly important as it will help optimise the use of antibiotics and resistance containment in the South African veterinary sector.’
Words: MaryAnn Francis