Director-General  QU Dongyu

FAO Director-General calls for action at global conference on antimicrobial resistance


Muscat - FAO Director-General QU Dongyu today urged government ministers from around the world gathered in Muscat for the Third Global High-Level  Ministerial Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) to step up their efforts to reduce the devastating impact of AMR on public health, the environment and agrifood systems ahead of a dedicated UN General Assembly (UNGA) meeting on the subject scheduled in 2024. 

"We need to keep up the momentum and expand political commitments on our way to the 2024 UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AMR," Qu said in his opening remarks to the conference in Oman.

AMRoccurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites no longer respond to antimicrobial agents. As a result of drug resistance, antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents become ineffective and infections become difficult or impossible to treat, increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.

AMR is one of the top 10 global public health challenges, directly causing approximately 1.3 million deaths every year. It also threatens animal health and welfare, the environment, food and nutrition security and safety, as well as economic growth and social well-being, Qu said.

The two day conference is being hosted by Oman with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Health Organization ( WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), known collectively as the Quadripartite.

FAO has played an active role in establishing the recently launched AMR Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Platform and will soon launch a global 10-year initiative to reduce the need for antimicrobials on farms, Qu said. Currently, 70 percent of antimicrobials sold globally are used in production animals.

"The initiative will allow all Members to contribute to achieving this common goal of reducing the need for antimicrobials," Qu said, ensuring that "no one is left behind in this endeavour."

The conference marks the conclusion of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, a global campaign designed to improve awareness and understanding of AMR and encourage best practices among the public, One Health stakeholders and policymakers, who all play a critical role in reducing the further emergence and spread of AMR.

The conference, which ends on Friday, is due to adopt the Muscat Manifesto, which sets out targets, with clear indicators and milestones for antimicrobial use in both the human and animal sectors. Achieving such targets will be key to protecting the efficacy of antimicrobials and curbing the spread of AMR worldwide.

"Today’s Ministerial Meeting is a landmark in our collective journey, and the Muscat Manifesto is an opportunity to translate our ambition into concrete and achievable antimicrobial reduction targets," Qu said.

"FAO is fully committed to achieving this goal, and to continue working with all of you in an efficient, effective and coherent manner."