More investments and surveillance needed to curb misuse of antimicrobials: FAO

FAO CAMA farmer with cattle in Cambodia which is sharing its successful experience in dealing with AMR. (Image source: FAO)A stronger global effort, including larger investments and improved surveillance measures, is required to ensure responsible use of antimicrobials so that they do not threaten public health and food production, as stated by FAO at a UN General Assembly side event on antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

“Good health, good productivity and good economies depend on safe and nutritious food. Prudent use of antimicrobials in public health and agriculture is essential to achieve this,” said Maria Helena Semedo, deputy director-general of FAO.

“We need surveillance on antimicrobial use and the spread of AMR, not only through hospitals, but throughout the food chain, including horticulture and the environment for more comprehensive risk assessments,” Semedo added.

Citing FAO's experience in Cambodia, Semedo explained that the world needs to stave off the risk of having less efficient medicines to treat deadly infections due to the fact that more bacteria are becoming immune to antimicrobials.

“One and one half years ago, in Cambodia, there was little awareness of AMR in agriculture. There was little surveillance and few links with human health officials. By strengthening collaboration between health and agriculture ministries, helping draft rules to regulate the sale of veterinary medicines and assisting animal health labs, we helped increase awareness and greater cooperation in dealing with AMR,” she said.

Semedo further noted that now Cambodia is sharing its experience with neighbouring countries and FAO has experienced similar successes in Ghana, Kenya, Thailand, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Latin America and Central Asia.

Semedo underscored the importance of work done at field level to bring AMR under control. “Progress in the fight against AMR depends on good agricultural practices. We need to promote sustainable agriculture and food systems,” she said.

She also explained that the world needs improved mechanisms for the quality assurance of pharmaceuticals because counterfeit and substandard medicines contribute to resistance.

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