Ministers agree on international action to address antimicrobial resistance in animals and to safeguard medicines for humans and animals alike
Marrakesh, 31 October 2018 – The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) hosted this week global leaders in animal health from the private and public sectors and civil society to discuss new ideas and solutions to the global rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The three-day event was placed under the high patronage of his majesty Mohammed VI, King of Morocco. Entitled the 2nd Global Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance and Prudent Use of Antimicrobial Agents in Animals, it focussed on the role played by animal health in what is one of the 21st century’s starkest global health challenges.
Prevention of AMR in farming is critical to human health, as well as to food safety, food security, animal health and animal welfare. Antimicrobials are used around the world to control and treat infections in animals and humans, but their overuse and misuse puts their efficacy at risk. Unprecedented movements of people, animals, goods and food worldwide, enable resistant pathogens to populate the planet with ease.
The conference was attended by more than 500 participants, including representatives of OIE’s 182 Member Countries, of international partners (such as FAO, WHO, World Bank, and the United Nations Interagency Coordination Group on AMR), as well as representatives from the meat, dairy, poultry, egg, aquaculture and pharmaceutical industries, civil society and academia.
A prominent theme of the discussions was the need for cross-sector, national level coordination through national action plans to prevent the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance. Conference speakers included Ministers, Deputy Ministers and State Secretaries from countries across the world, including Morocco, Germany, Senegal, Thailand, Japan, Norway, Botswana, Serbia, and Uzbekistan.
“It is only by promoting the responsible and prudent use of antimicrobials that their efficacy can be safeguarded, ensuring that essential medicines that protect both human and animal health can continue to be used.” said Dr Monique Eloit, Director General of OIE. “We have made important progress in this mission today. International Standards on prudent use already exist. We now need to put them into practice at national level to tackle AMR. For this, international collaboration is essential. By working together, countries can discuss challenges, share best practice and make global improvements.”
Closing video of the 2nd OIE Global Conference on AMR
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, spoke via video message at the start of the conference. Commenting on the important timing of the conference, he said, “Antimicrobial resistance represents a major global health threat and it is not a challenge for the health sector alone (…). Together, we can support countries in their work to stem the tide of antimicrobial resistance.”
Many of the Ministers touched on their own national programmes to minimise antimicrobial resistance in animals and how international Standards and leadership helped in their development (see press release: Agriculture Ministers join forces to tackle antimicrobial resistance in farming).
Vice-Minister of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management in Serbia, Zeljko Radosevic, highlighted that a National Strategy on AMR will soon be adopted by the National government, alongside a national campaign for the prudent use of antibiotics for use in humans and animals. Frans Van Der Westhuizen, Deputy Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security in Botswana, spoke of the recently established Medicines Regulation Authority to ensure that only good quality medicines are given to people and animals. The Deputy Chairman of the State Veterinary Committee of Uzbekistan also touched on his country’s experience of preventing antimicrobial resistance.
Referring to the challenge of fake and low-quality antimicrobials for animal use, Aminata Mbengue Ndiaye, Minister of Livestock and Animal Production in Senegal, said “The cross-border movement of counterfeit or low quality veterinary medicines is a limiting factor in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. The financial value of the parallel market for veterinary drugs is estimated as being 30% of the value of controlled imports.”
A series of bold recommendations were released at the end of the meeting. These include an urgent call for new research into priority vaccines and other alternatives to antimicrobials, phasing out the use of antibiotics as growth promoters and ensuring that qualified veterinarians, veterinary paraprofessionals and farmers work closely to ensure prudent and responsible use of key drugs.
Commenting on the conference, Juergen Voegele, Senior Director, Agriculture Global Practice, World Bank Group, said, “AMR is not a technical issue. It is a people issue. An animal issue. An environment issue. We need to look at everything we do in sustainable development through the lens of AMR- look at how every program and decision might impact AMR and be impacted by AMR. This doesn’t necessarily require extra money, it is essentially about asking the right question at the point when decisions are being taken.”
“This gathering of decision-makers fills me with hope because, working together, we can address the responsible use of antimicrobials in all sectors and all countries.” said José Graziano da Silva, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “The prudent use of antimicrobials remains essential for food security, and a good understanding of prudent use should be a requirement for health professionals in every sector with a license to practice.”
The OIE would also like to thank the Kingdom of Morocco and the National Office for Food Safety for their significant support in organising this conference. The conference was organised with the financial support of the Kingdom of Morocco, the People’s Republic of China, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norad, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the United Kingdom Fleming Fund and the United States of America.
Watch the conference in full here and read more about OIE’s work on antimicrobial resistance on our website.