Buenos Aires, 23 March 2023 (PAHO/WHO) - With the purpose of assessing the situation of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) worldwide, discussing the challenges in implementing strategies to contain this global problem, promoting the implementation of national action plans, and strengthening laboratories, the 4th Meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance and Evaluation Collaborating Centres Network was held in Buenos Aires.
The meeting, which took place between March 21st and 23rd, was the first in-person gathering after three years of pandemic. In this sense, and after the health crisis caused by COVID-19, the representative of PAHO in Argentina, Eva Jané Llopis, stated during the opening that "we need to continue strengthening the prevention of infections and ensuring that health systems have quality laboratories to diagnose infectious diseases and ensure responsible use of drugs in both human and animal health, as well as in the food industry."
For this reason, she described this evaluation meeting of antimicrobial resistance policies and surveillance with collaborating centers as "key to developing technical products and defining how to collaborate in the implementation of these national plans at the AMR level.".
In front of the Minister of Health of Argentina, Carla Vizzotti, and representatives of the country's collaborating centers, Jané Llopis congratulated Argentina for its regional leadership through the work of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (INEI) of ANLIS Malbrán to transfer knowledge to 14 Caribbean countries between 2019 and 2021, which "with the collaboration of PAHO, helped strengthen the detection and surveillance capacity of AMR in laboratories that was essential when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived."
In addition, the representative considered it essential to have budgets allocated to AMR to develop action plans.
For her part, the Minister expressed that "it is an honor and a very big commitment that this meeting takes place in Argentina" and highlighted that "the WHO Collaborating Centres Network is a unique platform that brings together knowledge and experience from around the world to strengthen the surveillance of antimicrobial resistance and quality assessment."
On behalf of WHO, the Director of Surveillance, Prevention, and Control of Antimicrobial Resistance, Kitty van Weezenbeek, thanked the collaborating centers for the work done during the pandemic and called for "changing the perspective to not only focus on the laboratory surveillance approach but to include the entire diagnostic process."
The Director also reported that there will be funding through global and pandemic funds allocated to AMR for the actions of countries that request it for this purpose. That is why she requested the cooperation of the centers to "find the best ways to invest and innovate in favor of the people who attend health systems."
According to WHO data, antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections kill around 1.3 million people per year and are associated with an additional 5 million deaths. This implies more deaths than those caused by HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. WHO has classified AMR among the top 10 global threats to human health.