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Antimicrobial resistance is a threat to lives and livelihoods worldwide

FAO and WHO launch World Antibiotic Awareness Week

12 November 2018, Cairo, Egypt – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has joined the World Health Organization (WHO) today in launching World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) in the Near East and North Africa region, celebrated every year in November.

World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) aims to increase global awareness of antibiotic resistance  and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers, farmers, and policy makers to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.

“Access to and appropriate use of antimicrobials is vital for the production of safe and nutritious foods, for animal health and human welfare,” said Nabil Gangi, Deputy Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa (NENA), in the press conference today.

“The main messages of this year’s WAAW are ‘think twice and seek advice’ and 'responsible antimicrobial use saves lives'. FAO emphasizes on promoting good farming and biosecurity practices aimed at preventing infections in livestock, aquaculture, and crop production. Improving animal husbandry and biosecurity is key to reduce the use of antimicrobials in animal production, as healthy animals do not need antimicrobials,” stated Friederike Mayen, FAO Senior Livestock Development Officer.

One Health Smart Phone for Change

Among the numerous joint activities on antibiotic resistance, comes the “One Health Smart Phone for Change” competition, which encouraged young students in Sudan to motivate antimicrobial users to change their practices by sharing videos promoting responsible use.

FAO and WHO announced the first place group winners of the competition today, Salma Esam and Razan Hayder. The participants submitted a video presenting the dangerous future of the world with increasing antimicrobial resistance if the current inefficient use of antibiotics continues. 

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance occurs when microbes, such as bacteria, become resistant to the drugs used to treat them. This is due to the persistent overuse and misuse of antibiotics in human and animal health.

“Antimicrobial resistance is a threat to lives and livelihoods worldwide. If we think about the estimated amount of 700,000 humans dying from the consequences of antimicrobial resistance each year, we have to look into the practices of animal husbandry and food production of animal origin,” added Gangi.

To ensure better practices and administration of antimicrobials, it is necessary to promote better quality assurance and control, appropriate dosing and frequency, and appropriate selection of the types of antimicrobials given.

Avoiding indiscriminate use and promoting sustainable animal production practices will help prevent infections in animals and reduce the use of antibiotics.

One Health Approach

In order to combat antimicrobial resistance, a “One Health” approach is needed, where the joint efforts of the human health and animal health sectors are combined to achieve a paradigm shift in the use of antimicrobials.

The “One Health” approach comes as a result of a WHO-FAO-World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Tripartite agreement, to ensure sustained and effective global action to address antibiotic resistance.

Under this framework comes FAO’s Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance 2016-2020, which is guiding worldwide efforts to raise awareness of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to help motivate changes in practice; to improve regulations and governance; and to improve surveillance of antimicrobials and resistant microbes in food and agriculture. 

FAO is working to assist Member States in developing and implementing multisector national actions plans to combat AMR, aiming at strengthening national efforts to achieve many of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 2 for zero hunger. In the NENA Region, FAO has supported Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Saudi Arabia in the development of National Action Plans for AMR, in collaboration and coordination with the Tripartite Organizations.


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