Antimicrobial Resistance

FAO’s role

FAO plays a key role in supporting governments, producers, traders and other stakeholders to move towards the responsible use of antimicrobials in agriculture, thus helping reduce antimicrobial resistance in agricultural systems.

FAO’s Thirty-ninth Conference (in June, 2015) adopted Resolution 4/2015 on AMR which recognized that it poses an increasingly serious threat to public health and sustainable food production, and that an effective response should involve all sectors of government and society.

The resolution flags as an urgent concern growing levels of AMR in disease- and infection-causing microorganisms, as they become less responsive to treatment, making infections or diseases more difficult -- or impossible -- to cure.

It urges “increased political awareness, engagement, and leadership to ensure continued access to antimicrobial drugs through the prudent and responsible use of antimicrobials in agriculture."

The Conference asked FAO to support related regional, national and local efforts through capacity-building, technology transfer, and knowledge-sharing work, as well as deepen its partnership in this effort with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) – focusing in particular on helping lower-income countries develop the capacity to respond to this global challenge.

To support the implementation of Resolution 4/2015, the FAO Action Plan on AMR addresses five major Focus Areas: 

  • increasing stakeholder awareness and engagement;
  • strengthening surveillance and research;
  • enabling good practices;
  • promoting responsible use of antimicrobials; and
  • strengthening governance and allocating resources sustainably

This Action Plan supports the WHO-led Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance2 in highlighting the necessity of adopting a “One Health” approach, with the involvement of public health and veterinary authorities, the food and agriculture sector, financial planners, environmental specialists, and consumers.  The objective is to assist Member States to develop (by May, 2017) and implement multisector National Action Plans to combat AMR.

FAO works closely with its international partners in a tripartite initiative with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), as well as with other partners (private sector, academia, civil society, financial institutions). It recognizes that a collaborative approach between different sectors, and both political and economic entities and disciplines, is essential in order to address AMR effectively. 

FAO is uniquely placed to contribute to international efforts to combat AMR and to provide support to governments, producers, traders and other stakeholders in adopting measures to minimize the use of antimicrobials and to contain AMR. At the same time, FAO is keenly sensitive to the needs of the food and agriculture sector worldwide. The Organization has wide expertise in a variety of disciplines (aquatic and terrestrial animal health, welfare and production; food and feed safety; crop production and protection; water and land stewardship; legal affairs, etc.) and is present around the world at country and regional levels. In addition, the Organization hosts the Secretariat of the Codex Alimentarius and of the International Plant Protection Commission, and thus pays particular attention to international regulatory issues. It further supports the work of these standard-setting organizations by providing them with scientific advice and helps in the implementation of standards through support to countries.

Being a multidisciplinary organization FAO, plays a key role in providing integrated and coherent assistance to countries in regulating and monitoring the use of antimicrobials and in preventing and minimizing the development of resistance across all sectors. FAO encourages countries to identify and involve all stakeholders (from policy makers and governmental regulators, retailers, agriculture and animal producers, food and feed manufacturers to the general public) to ensure their early engagement and their continued collaboration, and to make certain that agreed actions are implemented.

In addition, FAO’s vast experience in capacity development allows it to respond to countries’ requests for support on the use of antimicrobials and the prevention and control of AMR, among other issues. This is especially important for countries where weak or inadequate legislation, regulatory surveillance and/or monitoring systems make the risk of AMR particularly high.

This is the reason why FAO plays a key role in supporting government, producers, traders and other stakeholders to adopt measures to minimize the use of antimicrobials and to prevent the development of antimicrobial resistance. FAO works on antimicrobial resistance with its international partners in the Tripartite (a collaboration between FAO, WHO and OIE) and also with other partners, as appropriate.

FAO calls for a “One health” and “food chain” approach and is addressing Antimicrobial Resistance as a cross-sectoral issue because antimicrobials:

1. can spread through our food

2. are widely used in aquaculture and livestock production

3. are used in crop culture - more specifically antifungicides.

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