September 22, 2016
UN Assembly drums up fight vs antimicrobial resistance
World leaders on Thursday pushed to address the root causes of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) across multiple sectors, especially human health, animal health and agriculture at the 71st UN General Assembly. AMR happens when bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi develop resistance to medicines that were previously able to cure them.
This is only the fourth time a health issue has been taken up by the UN General Assembly.
"Antimicrobial resistance threatens the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and requires a global response," said Peter Thomson, the president of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly, who convened the high-level meeting.
"No one country, sector or organisation can address this issue alone," he added.
Countries reaffirmed their commitment to develop national action plans on AMR, based on the "Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance," the blueprint for tackling AMR developed in 2015 by WHO in coordination with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
Such plans are needed to understand the problem and stop the misuse of antimicrobial medicines in human health, animal health and agriculture.
Leaders recognised the need for stronger systems to monitor drug-resistant infections and the volume of antimicrobials used in humans, animals and crops.
High levels of AMR are the result of overuse and misuse of antibiotics and other antimicrobials in humans, animals (including farmed fish) and crops, as well as the spread of residues of these medicines in soil, crops and water.
"AMR is a problem not just in our hospitals, but on our farms and in our food, too. Agriculture must shoulder its share of responsibility, both by using antimicrobials more responsibly and by cutting down on the need to use them, through good farm hygiene," said Dr. José Graziano da Silva, FAO director-general.
For her part, OIE Director-General Monique Eloit said, "Effective and accessible antibiotics are as vital for protecting animal health and welfare and good veterinary medicine as they are for human health. We urge national authorities to strongly support all sectors involved, through promotion of responsible and prudent use, good practices and implementation of established standards and guidelines".
Meanwhile, EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis stressed that human and animal health are interconnected, and that, to tackle AMR, a "one-health" approach was indispensable.
Speaking before the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, September 21, Andriukaitis said the European Union and its member states "are committed to playing its part in international efforts" to address AMR.
"AMR is a major global challenge which requires a global solution; we need to work together to shape and implement joint measures", he said. --With inputs from Philippine News Agency