Blog Post: Production without medicalisation: AMR in Bangladesh's aquaculture, a one-health perspective

Disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites can develop resistance to antimicrobial (AM) agents (like antibiotics, antivirals and antiparasitics) to which they were originally sensitive. This is known as antimicrobial resistance, or AMR, when treatments fail, infections persevere and spread to others. AMR is a “one-health” problem where the health of people, animals, plants and the environment are closely interconnected. In order to meet the global demand for aquatic animal proteins, the overall aquaculture production needs to double in the next 30 years. Intensification of the aquaculture sector will inevitably come with some diseases challenges and a risk to see an increase in antimicrobial use (AMU) to combat them making the sector a potential key site for the emergence and transmission of AMR. Bangladesh is the world’s third largest inland producer of fish and shellfish that contributes to the country’s economic success. In recent years, the aquaculture sector has experienced a high disease burden often associated with an increase in antimicrobial use. In this context, one of the key challenges for Bangladesh Aquaculture is to maintain sustainable production without medicalization. As one of the Fleming Fund listed countries, Bangladesh receives financial support to tackle AMR with a specific focus on surveillance of antimicrobial use, resistant bacteria, and AMR risks. An AMR workshop funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) under the cross UK Research Council “Tacking Antimicrobial Resistance” program was held on the 12-13 of February 2019 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The workshop followed on from two UK-funded research projects on the microbial dynamics of disease within Bangladeshi aquaculture and on the disease management practices on farms and in hatcheries. Over sixty participants attended the workshop representing the Department of Fisheries, the Government of Bangladesh, the UK Government, non-government, intra-government, commercial, academic researchers and practitioner communities from over 20 organizations (e.g. the University of Exeter, local universities, Cefas, WorldFish, FAO, WHO) from the human, livestock and aquaculture health sectors.