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ACT/ Bolivia pushes forward on coordinated surveillance training


In March 2024 in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, as part of the Action to support implementation of Codex AMR Texts (ACT) project plan to improve surveillance capacities in the country, a workshop was held in coordination with the country’s National Laboratories Unit (UNALAB) of the National Agricultural Health and Food Safety Service (SENASAG). Twelve professional bacteriologists working in the area of food safety and animal health from UNALAB Santa Cruz and UNALAB Cochabamba laboratories participated in the workshop, together with Dr Oliver Daza, National Head of Epidemiological Surveillance of SENASAG and Dr Carolina Tejerina, as focal point of the ACT project in Bolivia.

The workshop training focused specifically on antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST) capacities regarding bacteria of interest within food safety and animal health, in order to bring capacities in the Plurinational State of Bolivia into line with international standards and practices. These include Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) and the European Committee for Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (EUCAST) methodologies.

Nercy Aleyda Vega Romero, a food parasitology analyst technician from UNALAB-Cochabamba, expressed her gratitude for the support of the ACT project to strengthen laboratory capacities. "Thanks to the training I was able to expand my knowledge, which will allow me to support, under international standards recommended by CLSI and EUCAST, the national surveillance for AMR from the UNALAB-Cochabamba Laboratory", she says.

AST in the animal food production sector is already carried out in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, but this testing does not yet function within a coordinated national surveillance programme. This workshop is expected to lead not only to improvements in standards of laboratory practices in the country, thus contributing to quality results, but will also help strengthen AMR surveillance. “Capacity building for AST is a critical step to prepare official laboratories for the implementation of a national surveillance plan for AMR in food animals, currently under development and to be applied by SENASAG's epidemiology unit,” says FAO’s ACT coordinator in the country, Jorge Berrios Arevalo.

At the end of the workshop, Vesna Boric, laboratory consultant of the ACT project, mentioned that "the technical capacities of the participating personnel were improved, leading to a more homogenized approach to criteria and result interpretation. The methods implemented were also improved, the written procedures were reviewed and adjusted, and new technical needs were identified in order to progressively advance laboratory work and AMR surveillance.”

The ACT project in the Plurinational State of Bolivia has focused on the progressive strengthening of its AMR surveillance system. “Improved governance has also taken a leading role, with spaces for intersectoral collaboration, but also reinforcing coordinated work within the food and agriculture sector,” continues Berrios Arevalo. “All of this is accompanied by activities that promote awareness of AMR and the application of good practices for the responsible and prudent use of antimicrobials.”

The project will continue to support the country in each of these key aspects of foodborne AMR containment for the next two years.

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The ACT project
ACT in Bolivia


Photo ©FAO/Vesna Boric