WHO has published Countries step up to tackle antimicrobial resistance. Excerpt:
Countries are making significant steps in tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR), but serious gaps remain and require urgent action, according to a report released today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The report charts progress in 154 countries and reveals wide discrepancies. Some, including many European countries, have been working on AMR policies in human and animal sectors for more than 4 decades. Others have only recently started to take action to contain this growing threat. Progress in developing and implementing plans is greater in high-income than low-income countries but all countries have scope for improvement. No country reports sustained capacity at scale in all areas.
The report looks at surveillance, education, monitoring and regulating consumption and use of antimicrobials in human health, animal health and production, as well as plants and the environment – as recommended in the Global Action Plan published in 2015.
Promising findings include 105 countries with a surveillance system in place for reporting drug-resistant infections in human health and 68 countries with a system for tracking consumption of antimicrobials. In addition, 123 countries reported that they have policies to regulate the sale of antimicrobials, including the requirement of a prescription for human use – a key measure to tackle overuse and misuse of antimicrobials.
But implementation of these policies varies and unregulated medicines are still available in places such as street markets, with no limits on how they are used. Medicines are very often sold over the counter and no prescription is requested. This puts human and animal health at risk, potentially contributing to the development of antimicrobial resistance.
The report highlights areas, particularly in the animal and food sectors, where there is an urgent need for more investment and action. For example, only 64 countries report that they follow FAO-OIE-WHO recommendations to limit the use of critically important antimicrobials for growth promotion in animal production. Of these, 39 are high-income countries, with the majority in WHO’s European Region.
By contrast, only 3 countries from WHO’s African Region and 7 countries from the WHO Region of the Americas have taken this important step to reduce the emergence of antimicrobial resistance.