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ACT in Nepal / Strengthening food safety laboratory to monitor antimicrobial resistance


Nepal assessed the ability to test for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in food samples by its central food safety laboratory as part of the “Action to support implementation of Codex AMR texts (ACT)” project. Related laboratory visits, workshops and stakeholder meetings took place in Katmandu from 19 to 21 September 2023.

This assessment and training helped us to understand the areas we need to improve to strengthen the AMR surveillance in the food sector", saidMatina Joshi Vaidya, Director-General of the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control and Codex Focal Point of Nepal at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development.

Four laboratory specialists were also trained to perform these such assessments in the future, and more than 40 stakeholders discussed potential collaboration at the country level on AMR. FAO provided support to Members by making the Assessment Tool for Laboratories and Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Systems (ATLASS) available, which will facilitate laboratory assessment at the country level. The newly trained personnel will now be able to evaluate laboratories at the district level in Nepal.

The participants focused on practical examples while using ATLASS to assess laboratories, and they noted that this helped them to learn more about the areas for improvement. "Think big, start small, act now", said Rungtip Chuanchuen, lead trainer of the ATLASS mission.

"We are considering zero tolerance on using antibiotics as growth promoters and always advocate for prudent use of antimicrobials. This can be implemented by departments working together and integrating the antimicrobial use and resistance surveillance, raising awareness, and strengthening the laboratory network", said Umesh Umesh Dahal, Director General of the Department of Livestock Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development.

After the assessment, stakeholders representing human health, animal health, food safety, academic institutions, and donor agencies met to discuss how to improve collaboration to establish an integrated AMR surveillance system. Among the recommendations for Nepal, strengthening staff training, updating standard operating procedures, expanding data sharing and publications, and enrolling in proficiency testing.

Foodborne AMR is a food safety issue. The implementation of Codex AMR standards reduces the emergence and transmission of AMR in food systems, thereby protecting consumer health and ensuring fair trade practices. The ACT project is supporting the implementation of Codex standards not only in Nepal, but also in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Cambodia, Colombia, Mongolia, and Pakistan.


Photo @FAO/Rojita Mishra