Global Call to Action on Antimicrobial Resistance

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Global health experts from national governments and agencies, private sector, and civil society gathered in Accra for the 2nd Call to Action Against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and to deliberate on ways to close critical gaps in addressing the rise and spread of drug-resistant microbes.

The two-day Call to Action focused on global, coordinated action to halt the spread of superbugs. Delegates of the event discussed the risks and factors that are putting recent progress against AMR in peril, and they reflected on innovative ways of addressing AMR and reducing illness and death caused by the superbugs, in humans, animals and the environment.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when antibiotics and other medicines used to treat animal or human diseases cease to be effective. Over-prescribing antibiotics in human medicine and misuse or over-use of antimicrobials in the prevention and treatment of diseases in the livestock, aquaculture and crop production contributes to resistance and increased amounts of antibiotics in the environment. This is often associated with the potential risk of emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistant micro-organisms.

In his opening address, Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, Mahamadu Bawumia, underscored there the need for global effort to halt the abuse of antimicrobial medications to reverse the trend of drug resistance to infections, which he said, is gradually becoming a global threat.

“Antimicrobials are life-saving medicines and we misuse them at our own peril. Our aim should be first to halt and then reverse the trend of antimicrobial resistance because the future of human race may just depend on this,” he stressed.

Ghana’s Vice President further noted that the call to action against antimicrobial resistance is more urgent than before as nations are still faced with the challenge of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and particularly SDG-3 which is about ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being of all.

One Health approach

FAO Senior Animal Health and Production Officer, Scott Newman, said “AMR is a multi-sectorial One Health problem and since the health of people, animals and the environment are inextricably connected, tackling AMR issues requires contributions from the human, animal, aquaculture, crop, forestry, food safety, water, land, biodiversity, environment and legal sectors. Being a multidisciplinary organization, FAO can bring in expertise in many of these areas.”

FAO and AMR

Intensification of agricultural production - has led to a rising use of antimicrobials - a -use that is expected to more than double by 2030, with livestock, fisheries and aquaculture applications being very important parts of the sector to manage. Antimicrobials are important for the treatment of animal and plant diseases but the challenge lies in ensuring that antimicrobials are used responsibly, and that the correct policies are in place and enforced..

Unfortunately, misuse and over-use of antibiotics in the agriculture sector often takes place as a substitute for good farming practices or due to a lack of awareness or incorrect information. For example, 27 different antimicrobial classes used in animals; just 89 countries report having a system in place to collect data on the use of antimicrobial agents in animals, and there is no standardized data available on the global use of antimicrobials in livestock.

Mr. Newman added that “AMR is a significant global threat to public health, food safety and food security, as well as to livelihoods, animal production, economic and agricultural development. In light of this, FAO is working diligently to address AMR in a One Health manner, guided by the pillars of the FAO Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance 2016-2020”.

The tripartite (Food and Agriculture Organization, Word Health Organisation (WHO) and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), plus the UN United Nations Environment Programme,), together with public, and private organisations, share the responsibility of addressing global activities regarding AMR at animal-human-ecosystem interface.