Resistencia a los antimicrobianos

FAO publishes antimicrobial resistance terms in different languages


To avoid misunderstandings and inconsistent interpretations, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has published Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Terms. The technical definitions are now available in all six UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish), as well as other languages.

As noted by Socrates, “the beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.” In addressing the challenges posed by antimicrobial resistance, this statement is no less true today than it was 2500 years ago,” said Jeff LeJeune, FAO Food Safety Officer, who led the working group to define the technical terms.  

He noted that very often the understanding or intended meaning of the terms used by different writers or speakers have slight to significant deviations, resulting in nuanced to critical differences.

“For example, some authors have insisted that only naturally occurring chemicals should be considered under the moniker of antibiotics, excluding those that are of synthetic or semi-synthetic origin.  This is important because resistance among bacteria to certain commonly used synthetic drugs (e.g. sulfonamides, fluoroquinolones) poses important challenges in human health and veterinary medicine and certainly should be included in the considerations of antibacterial resistance.  However, resistance to these classes of drugs would be excluded from antibiotic resistance discussions if the aforementioned narrow definition of antibiotic is used (i.e. naturally occurring),” said LeJeune. 

According to LeJeune, it is often the case that there is no clear “right” or “wrong” meaning of a word, simply variations on scientific opinion. “When words are used by different groups to represent different things or concepts, statements and documents, it can become unclear or ambiguous to the reader, leading to misunderstandings, inconsistent interpretation, and in the worst case, ideas that completely conflict with their intended meaning,” he added.

Junxia Song, Senior Animal Health Officer and FAO AMR Coordinator, emphasized the need for technical definitions in multiple languages. 

“With so many contributors to the science of AMR, it is understandable how so many different definitions of the same word may have arisen. Having definitions in multiple languages can also reduce misunderstandings when translating information into multiple different languages,” she said.

To address this challenge, FAO has developed a clear and transparent lexicon of commonly used words in AMR in multiple languages to align technical internal communications and provide clarity to external audiences going forward. As of now, the terms are available not only in six UN languages, but also in languages where the “Action to support implementation of Codex AMR Texts (ACT)” project is taking place: Khmer, Korean, Mongolian, and Nepali. It will be available in Punjabi and Urdu soon.

AMR terms in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Khmer, Korean, Mongolian, Nepali, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

The terms in English are also published on the FAO Term Portal.

For more information about the ACT project, please visit here.

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