The regional project “Working Together to Fight Antimicrobial Resistance” expands to address COVID-19 associated AMR threats

14 Oct 2021
antibiotics-stock-1500

FAO, OIE and PAHO, the implementing organizations of the regional project “Working Together to Fight Antimicrobial Resistance”, have signed an addendum with the European Union to extend this initiative for an additional year. This expansion, in scope and duration, will support actions to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and prevent future emerging diseases with pandemic potential. The project which had an initial duration of three years (2020-2022) and involves seven Latin American countries, will now continue until 2023.

About this addendum

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been an intensive use of antibiotics to treat bacterial infections in COVID-19 patients. This intensive use has contributed to an increase in the number of multidrug-resistant pathogens and has caused the emergence of new AMR mechanisms. In addition to the direct impact on AMR due to the increased use of antibiotics in human health, the transmission of AMR beyond the health system should also be considered and evaluated. For example, the release of higher levels of antimicrobials in hospital wastewaters has increased the levels of antimicrobials in the environment, which may eventually affect the level of resistance in animals (wildlife or in production systems) and in agricultural and natural systems.

Furthermore, the current situation has highlighted the importance of protecting wildlife health to prevent the spill-over of diseases from wildlife to humans. Additionally, the emergence or re-emergence of infectious diseases is often accompanied by excessive use of antimicrobials.

The implementing organizations in accordance with their areas of competence, have designed an action strategy to mitigate the emergence and spread of AMR and prevent future pandemics. This strategy focuses on intensifying interventions to contain AMR in the seven participating countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay), by prioritizing activities through national actions plans, that specifically address the new challenges that have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project will continue to develop innovative models for the surveillance of antimicrobial resistance, and for the use and consumption in people and animals. Leveraging the increased risk perception of infectious diseases and their epidemic potential, awareness raising and education about the AMR problem in the different relevant sectors, will also continue.

“Working Together to Fight Antimicrobial Resistance” is a project under the umbrella of the “One Health” concept, that recognizes that human and animal health are interdependent and bound to the health of the ecosystems in which they exist. It also acknowledges the need for a multidimensional approach and an intersectoral response to address the AMR problem. Strengthening the governance of the “One Health” concept will not only contribute to tackling AMR, but also to understanding and preventing the risks of future emerging diseases with pandemic potential that originate at the interface between animals, humans, and the environment in which they cohabit.

For EU it is a priority to work with Latin American countries in the fight against AMR, and supports this Project financed by the Partnership Instrument, with a total contribution of €12.6 million to be implemented for four years.