FAO Regional Office for Africa

Improving AMR prevention, detection, and response through enhanced surveillance

FAO tool allows francophone countries to assess Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) surveillance systems

Photo: @FAO/Luis Tato

25 November 2019, Dakar – As antimicrobial resistant microbes in humans, livestock, and the environment are on the rise, improving surveillance is crucial in identifying and understanding these resistant microbes to better prevent, detect, and respond to the issue of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

To assist francophone countries to improve AMR surveillance capacity in animal health, food safety, water and environment systems, FAO Regional Office for Africa, in collaboration with the FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) Senegal, organized a 5-day training to introduce the FAO Assessment Tool for Laboratories and AMR Surveillance Systems (FAO-ATLASS) with the facilitation of the trainers from the Emergency Prevention System for Animal Health (EMPRES-AH) and AMR detection and surveillance experts from France and Senegal.

With the support of the Fleming Fund of Government of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, this training enabled 31 participants from 17 francophone countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to ensure standardized FAO-ATLASS assessments within the region. FAO-ATLASS training participants included experts from different ministries pertaining to animal and public health, agriculture as well as specialized laboratories, drug authorities and the academia. With this training, the community of ATLASS assessors is expected to increase and better monitor and sustain the momentum in improving AMR surveillance in the animal health and agricultural sectors mainly, but also the overall surveillance system including the linkages with the human health sector in their respective countries.

“FAO-ATLASS aims to collect descriptive data and to evaluate the performance of national activities related to AMR surveillance,” said, Makhfousse SARR, the FAO Representative Assistant. SARR added, “the FAO-ATLASS tool was used in Senegal in March 2018 to evaluate six laboratories involved in the field of animal health, human health and agri-food as well as a regional laboratory for analysis and veterinary control. SARR also took the opportunity to congratulate FAO and Senegalese experts for their collective efforts in AMR risk mitigation.

FAO Assessment Tool for Laboratories and AMR Surveillance Systems (FAO-ATLASS)

FAO-ATLASS training and missions can contribute to AMR prevention, detection and respond capacities and surveillance for the animal health, food and agriculture sectors as well as the human health sector to some extent. To date, FAO-ATLASS has been used in 28 countries in South and South East Asia, East, Southern and West Africa and Eastern Europe, having created a community of FAO-ATLASS assessors throughout different regions. Through FAO-ATLASS, FAO provides a valuable tool to perform an objective and comprehensive assessment of the national AMR surveillance systems with the ability to measure progress over time, contributing towards the implementation of the national and global action plans on AMR. The use of FAO-ATLASS is also creating opportunities for laboratory capacity building, surveillance strengthening, and increased awareness in countries and regions, which is critical in assuring success in the global fight against AMR under One Health approach.

Key AMR resources exist in regional and national laboratories but, in the majority, there is a lack of essential equipment and reagents for detection of AMR. Furthermore, epidemiology units exist combining passive and active disease surveillance, but they do not currently include AMR in most countries. FAO-ATLASS allows the assessment of the five main areas of an AMR surveillance system (governance, data collection and analysis, data production network, communication, and sustainability) and identifies specific steps for improvement to help countries with prioritizing actions for building reliable national AMR surveillance systems. In this context, FAO is supporting countries in developing their national response towards global monitoring, prevention and control of AMR through FAO-ATLASS trainings and missions that provide a baseline data for authorities to identify a stepwise approach to improve AMR risk mitigation in the region with a One Health approach.

FAO fights global AMR threats

Antimicrobial resistance is a global threat to lives and livelihoods. Resistant infections kill one person every minute and resistant pathogens are spreading between people and animals, and through food, water, waste, and soils, threatening food production and endangering human health and the health of wild, domesticated and farmed animals. According to the AMR review, the global economy may lose more than USD 10 trillion dollars annually by 2050 because of AMR, if no actions are taken.

In order to tackle the AMR issue in a holistic approach, FAO, WHO and OIE is supporting member states to develop and implement their National AMR Action Plans based on the AMR Global Action Plan developed by WHO with the support of FAO and OIE. Further, FAO has developed an AMR action plan with four pillars: (i) improve awareness on AMR, (ii) develop capacity for surveillance and monitoring of AMR and AMU, (iii) Strengthen governance, and (iv) promote good practices in food and agricultural systems including the prudent use of antimicrobials. The FAO AMR action plan supports the WHO-led GAP to promote a better AMR mitigation strategy in the food and agriculture sectors.

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