New report wants phase out of antimicrobials as growth promoters

groundbreaking report, by UN Ad hoc Interagency Coordinating Group on Antimicrobial Resistance has called for the phase out of  the use of critically important antimicrobials as growth promoters in agriculture.

The report further warned that drug-resistant diseases could cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050 and damage to the economy as catastrophic as the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.

By 2030, antimicrobial resistance could force up to 24 million people into extreme poverty.

The UN, international agencies and experts during the release of the report called for immediate, coordinated and ambitious action to avert a potentially disastrous drug-resistance crisis.

The report revealed that currently, at least 700,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant diseases, including 230,000 people who die from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. More and more common diseases, including respiratory tract infections, sexually transmitted infections and urinary tract infections, are untreatable; lifesaving medical procedures are becoming much riskier, and our food systems are increasingly precariously.

The world is already feeling the economic and health consequences as crucial medicines become ineffective. Without investment from countries in all income brackets, future generations will face the disastrous impacts of uncontrolled antimicrobial resistance.

Recognizing that human, animal, food and environmental health are closely interconnected, the report called for a coordinated, multisectoral “One Health” approach.

It recommends countries: prioritize national action plans to scale-up financing and capacity-building efforts; put in place stronger regulatory systems and support awareness programs for responsible and prudent use of antimicrobials by professionals in human, animal and plant health; invest in ambitious research and development for new technologies to combat antimicrobial resistance; urgently phase out the use of critically important antimicrobials as growth promoters in agriculture

UN Deputy Secretary-General and Co-Chair of the IACG, Amina Mohammed, said “Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest threats we face as a global community. This report reflects the depth and scope of the response needed to curb its rise and protect a century of progress in health.”

“It rightly emphasizes that there is no time to wait and I urge all stakeholders to act on its recommendations and work urgently to protect our people and planet and secure a sustainable future for all.”

The recommendations require immediate engagement across sectors, from governments and the private sector, to civil society and academia.

Convened at the request of world leaders after the first ever UN High-Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance in 2016, the expert group brought together partners across the UN, International organizations and individuals with expertise across human, animal and plant health, as well as the food, animal feed, trade, development and environment sectors, to formulate a blueprint for the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

This report reflects a renewed commitment to collaborative action at the global level by the World Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), José Graziano da Silva, also said, “The report’s recommendations recognize that antimicrobials are critical to safeguard food production, safety and trade, as well as human and animal health, and it clearly promotes responsible use across sectors.

“Countries can foster sustainable food systems and farming practices that reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance by working together to promote viable alternatives to antimicrobial use, as laid out in the report’s recommendations.”

Director General of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Monique Eloit, said antimicrobial resistance must be addressed urgently through a one health approach involving bold, long-term commitments from governments and other stakeholders supported by international organization.

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