Four United Nation agencies have come together to address Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) by launching a multi-stakeholder partnership platform to globally address the growing threats and impact from antimicrobial resistance.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) — together known as the Quadripartite are on this initiative to tackle the AMR threat to humans, animals, plants, ecosystems and livelihoods.

Drug resistance

AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites no longer respond to antibiotics, for instance, due to overuse or misuse. As a result, drug resistance sets in, making antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents ineffective. Infections then become difficult or impossible to treat, increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.

An estimated 1.3 million people around the world die each year directly due to bacterial AMR, a note from the WHO said. “If no action is taken, that number could soar dramatically, bringing higher public health costs and pushing more people into poverty, especially in low-income countries,” the note said, underscoring the need for the platform to mobilise coordinated efforts.

About 1.3 billion people rely on livestock for their livelihoods and 20 million people depend on aquaculture, especially in low and middle-income countries. “The spread of resistant strains of pathogens inexorably affects their livelihoods, as it increases animal suffering and losses. Applications to crops, as well as improper disposal of unused and expired drugs and waste from industries and communities can lead to pollution of soils and streams that spread the trigger for unwanted microorganisms to develop resistance to tools meant to contain and eliminate them,” it added.

“AMR challenges cannot be understood or addressed separately from the triple planetary crisis — the crisis of climate change, the crisis of nature and biodiversity loss, and the crisis of pollution and waste, all of which are driven by unsustainable consumption and production patterns,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen. “The climate crisis and AMR are two of the greatest and most complex threats the world currently faces. Both have been worsened by and can be improved with human action,” she added.

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