5. April 2022

Combating antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial residues in the Zambian poultry sector


Region: Africa Sector: Food & Feed Country: Zambia Project type: Demonstration project Country partners: Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Central Veterinary Research Institute, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, University of Zambia, Veterinary Association of Zambia, Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority Timescale: 1 May 2022 - 30 April 2025 ICARS funding: 558,168.72 USD


In response to the call made by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015, Zambia developed its National Action Plan (NAP) in 2017. The NAP was informed by a 2016 Situational Analysis, which looked at antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and antimicrobial use in the human, animal and plant sectors.

The Zambian NAP mirrored the WHO’s Global Action Plan (GAP) with a focus on

  • raising awareness and knowledge of AMR among practitioners and communities
  • strengthening surveillance and research
  • improving infection prevention and control (IPC) practices
  • improving optimization of antimicrobial use (AMU)
  • making an investment case for diagnostics and new treatments

Scholarly work from the University of Zambia has shown drug resistance in the poultry production chain. Recent research has reported resistance in poultry bacterial pathogens to some of the important antimicrobials for treating human infections, such as 3rd generation cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones and polymyxins such as colistin, a last resort antibiotic (Chishimba et al., 2016; Phiri et al., 2020; Ziba et al., 2020).

Zambia has made some strides in implementation of its AMR National Action Plan and the support from ICARS has come at an opportune time to augment the gains made so far in the fight against AMR. – Dr Anna Songolo Permeant Secretary Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock


While Zambia has made progress against AMR through implementing the NAP, there remain gaps. Some actions have been implemented to encourage farmers, veterinary personnel and agro veterinary shop sellers to use antimicrobials in a more prudent manner. However, there are no treatment guidelines for poultry diseases in Zambia to guide prescribing practices of veterinary professionals.

Poultry products are relatively cheap and easy to produce as protein sources, and therefore they form an integral part of human diets in many Zambian households.

Growing consumer demand for poultry products in Zambia has however resulted in non-prudent antimicrobial use on farms, with the intent to prevent and treat poultry diseases for growth optimization and maximising profits. Additionally, farmers may access medications as well as information about antimicrobial use from different sources (e.g. most commonly friends and neighbours). The implication is that farmers may not get the right advice on AMU, proper dosages and treatment for their stock, and thus resorting to other measures which may not adhere to best practices.

“Antimicrobial use in poultry production is complex with several actors involved in prescribing, sales and used, and to create change we much better understand these behaviors and tailor interventions suitably. This project will develop interventions that will target and engage numerous actors, to be able to have impact at a farm level to help contain and tackle AMR in Zambia.” – Erica Westwood, Implementation Research Advisor, ICARS

Project overview

The aim of this project is to optimise antimicrobial prescribing and use among the veterinary personnel, agrovets and farmers, to reduce unnecessary antimicrobial use and residues by at least 30% in intensively managed poultry over a period of 3 years.

The CAAZAP project will be implemented in three provinces of Zambia (Southern, Copperbelt and Lusaka), through four objectives:

  1. to assess and improve knowledge, attitudes and practices amongst key stakeholders
  2. to develop and disseminate treatment guidelines amongst veterinary doctors
  3. to assess antimicrobial use on farms and residue levels in poultry meat and eggs, as well as antimicrobials in feed
  4. to assess economic impact and implementation to inform policy and scale up

The project will target interventions across key stakeholders that influence antimicrobial advice, sales, prescription and use (namely vets, veterinary para-professionals, agro-vet sellers, and farmers). Interventions will be tailored to local contexts to support future scale up. The key interventions are to develop and disseminate novel treatment guidelines and with training for the veterinarians to help improve poultry diseases treatment regimes; and training, incentives, and sensitization that will target farmers, veterinary para-professionals, and agro-vet shop sellers to improve antimicrobial use, advise and selling practices.


Together, these interventions are intended to improve practices amongst antimicrobial users in the poultry value chain and provide measurable data to make a case to policy makers and community actors for sustaining and scaling up this programme. This project aims to support a wider impact of improving food safety in Zambia through reduced non-prudent antimicrobial use in food production.

Supporting activity

Interventions to control the dynamics of antimicrobial resistance from chickens through the environment (ENVIRE)

Demonstration Project

Mitigating the spread of antimicrobials and resistant microbes through treatment of manure