Sustained progress has been made globally to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR), but significant gaps remain and more investment and action is needed from the animal and food sectors. That’s the conclusion of a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and World Health Organization (WHO).
The report is based on responses to a self-assessment survey of the 194 countries that agreed in 2015 to develop a national AMR action plans by 2017. The self-assessment looks at surveillance, education, monitoring and regulating consumption and use of antimicrobials in human health, animal health and production, and plants and the environment.
Overall, 154 countries responded to the survey, and, of those, 93 (60.4%) have developed a national action plan, 51 (33.1%) say they are currently working on a plan, and 10 (6.5%) have made no progress. Fifty-nine countries have progressed to implementing their national action plans, and 40 have received government approval. In addition, the report notes that at least 7 countries that did not respond to the survey are known to have developed action plans.
Notable gaps appear, for example, in animal production, where only 64 countries say they follow FAO-OIE-WHO recommendations to limit the use of critically important antimicrobials for growth promotion, the report said. Of these, 39 are high-income countries.
Further, 67 countries said they have legislation in place to control production, licensing and distribution of antimicrobials for use in animals. Fifty-six countries however, said they have no national policy or legislation regarding the quality, safety and efficacy of antimicrobials used in animal and plant health, and their distribution, sale or use, or that they were unable to report whether they have these policies in place.
Overall, the report suggests countries are actively developing policies on AMR in human health than they are in the animal, agriculture and environment sectors. More activity is evident in the human sector for surveillance, education, monitoring, and regulating consumption and use.
The report also finds 105 countries have a surveillance system for reporting drug-resistant infections in human health and 68 countries have a system for tracking consumption of antimicrobials. In addition, 123 countries have policies to regulate the sale of antimicrobials, including requiring a prescription for human use — a key critical policy to prevent overuse and misuse of antimicrobials.