FAO Action Plan Addresses Antimicrobial Resistance in Food and Agricultural Systems
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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has published an 'Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) 2016-2020' that aims to help countries develop strategies to minimize the emergence and spread of AMR in their food chains.

fao_headquarters14 September 2016: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has published an ‘Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) 2016-2020’ that aims to help countries develop strategies to minimize the emergence and spread of AMR in their food chains.

Released one week prior to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) High-level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance, the Action Plan outlines how FAO will support global efforts in addressing the risks of medicine-resistant “superbugs” or bacteria, fungi and parasites that have acquired resistance to antimicrobial substances and thus, represent an emerging threat to human and animal health.

The Action Plan will support implementation of FAO Resolution 4/2015 on AMR, which seeks to complement ongoing efforts by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) in AMR prevention and control in food and agriculture. It will also support countries implementing national strategies on antimicrobial use and AMR in their food and agriculture sectors by mid-2017.

The introduction of the Action Plan explains that antimicrobial substances play an important role for treatment in animal, aquatic and plant production, and non-therapeutic uses such as animal growth promotion. It notes that the extent of antimicrobial use is difficult to estimate due to poor surveillance and reporting. It further states that AMR is a multi-sectoral, multi-dimensional “One Health” issue because micro-organisms can move between humans and food-producing animals. The issue is therefore being addressed as part of a FAO/WHO/OIE tripartite collaboration to address AMR across the human-animal-ecosystem interface.

The Action Plan has the following objectives: improved information sharing, education and training; improved surveillance, monitoring and record keeping; reduced infection; enhanced legislation and optimization of use; and increased sustainable investment for alternatives and reduced use. It outlines four action areas to achieve these objectives, namely: improving awareness of AMR issues; building national capacities for surveillance and monitoring; strengthening governance related to AMR and antimicrobial use in food and agriculture; and promoting good practices in food and agricultural systems.

The Action Plan underlines the importance of reducing the need for antimicrobial use in food and agriculture through vaccination, improved hygiene, biosecurity and animal handling practices on farm. It also notes the need to standardize data collection and use to enable tracking of antimicrobial use and AMR emergence across countries. [FAO Press Release] [UN Press Release] [The FAO Action Plan on Antimicrobial resistance 2016-2020] [IISD RS Story on the UN High-level Meeting on AMR] [IISD RS Story on Draft Outcome on AMR] [Draft Political Declaration]

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