WHO: Countries step up to tackle antimicrobial resistance

30 July, 2018


Below are the first four paragraphs from the WHO website:


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.

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 Global Action Plan has five objectives:

1: Improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication, education and training

2: Strengthen the knowledge and evidence base through surveillance and research

3: Reduce the incidence of infection through effective sanitation, hygiene and infection prevention measures

4: Optimize the use of antimicrobial medicines in human and animal health

5: Develop the economic case for sustainable investment that takes account of the needs of all countries, and increase investment in new medicines, diagnostic tools, vaccines and other interventions.

With regards to Objective 1, the current Progress Report (2018) shows:

'125 countries have some awareness raising activities about the risks of AMR in human health, but only 36 have campaigns in the animal sector.'

'10% more countries report incorporation of AMR into health worker education'

'AMR is covered in some pre-service and in-service training in 39.0% (n=60) of countries, while 16.2% (n=25) of countries have AMR covered in pre-service training for all relevant health professional cadres'

With regards to Objective 5, the current Progress Report (2018) shows:

'123 countries (79.9%) have policies in place to regulate the sale of antimicrobials including the requirement of a prescription for human use, which is a policy that has been shown to be effective in reducing antimicrobial use in some parts of the world...

'26.6% of responding countries (n=41) have guidelines in place to enable appropriate use of antimicrobials or optimize antibiotic use (Level 4–5) in human health facilities...'

In a linhked video, WHO DG Dr Tedros notes 'tremendous progress' made on antibiotic resistance, while noting that "One in 5 countries does not have a policy to regulate the consumption of antimicrobials or to guide their sale or use. This means that many people are buying unregulated medicines in places such as street markets, with no limits on how they're used". http://www.who.int/news-room/detail/18-07-2018-countries-step-up-to-tack...

Given the increasing and huge importance of antimicrobial resistance as a global health threat to the world's population, and given the deeply worrying statistics shown above, should we be convinced that enough is being done by the world's international health agencies and governments? How can we promote the political and financial support needed to avoid a post-antibiotic era where huge numbers of us are dying due to previously treatable infections? What can we do to accelerate progress, especially around objectives 1 (awareness and understanding) and 4 (appropriate use)?

Best wishes, Neil

Joint Coordinator HIFA Project on Information for Prescribers and Users of Medicines


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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 18,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on five global forums in three languages. He also currently chairs the Dgroups Foundation (www.dgroups.info), which supports 800 communities of practice on international development, health and social justice. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org