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FAO announces steps to address AMR on a global scale

14th Sep 2016 / By Alistair Driver

A new drive to address the problems associated with antibiotic usage in livestock on a global scale has been announced.

FAOThe UK, which commissioned the O’Neill review into the worldwide problem of Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR), is already taking significant steps in the livestock arena in response to the report’s findings.

Targets for reducing antibiotic use are in the process of being drawn up for the various livestock sectors.

But the question has been raised as to whether the same efforts are being made across the world in response to what is, as is frequently pointed out, a global problem.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation has now made its intentions clear, pledging to help countries develop strategies for tackling the spread of antimicrobial resistance in their food supply chains.

It has unveiled its Action Plan on AMR ahead of a high-level UN event on September 21 in New York to debate the wider issue of medicine-resistant ‘superbugs’.

FAO's plan highlights four key areas for action in the food and agriculture sphere:

  • Improving awareness of AMR issues among farmers and producers, veterinary professionals and authorities, policymakers, and food consumers
  • Building national capacities for surveillance and monitoring of AMR and antimicrobial use (AMU) in food and agriculture
  • Strengthening governance related to AMU and AMR in food and agriculture
  • Promoting good practices in food and agricultural systems and the prudent use of antimicrobials.

In a statement, the FAO said: "Antimicrobial medicines play a critical role in the treatment of diseases of farm animals and plants. Their use is essential to food security, to our well-being, and to animal welfare.

“However, the misuse of these drugs, associated with the emergence and spread of antimicrobial-resistant micro-organisms, places everyone at great risk."

Georgina Crayford, who leads for NPA on this issue, said the FAO was responding to the requirement by the World Health Organisation for all its member countries to develop an action plan on AMR.

She said: “UK Government of course already has one, but it's good to see the issue being addressed at an international level, especially as bacteria don't respect borders.

“It will be interesting to see what comes out of the UN general assembly high-level meeting on AMR on September 21.”  

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