New Delhi.: Experts from the One Health sectors of health, animal husbandry, fisheries and environment called on the Government of India to actively engage the state governments to build capacity for formulating and implementing action plans on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). Over 50 professionals and policy experts gathered at Delhi to discuss the future of AMR action in India and the progress of existing state action plans. The meeting was co-organized by World Health Organization’s Country Office for India, World Animal Protection India and ReAct Asia Pacific.
Colloquium on State Action Plans on AMR in India 2022 – Co-organised by World Health Organization India, ReAct Asia Pacific and World Animal Protection India
Antimicrobial Resistance has been acknowledged as one of the most important healthcare issues of the twenty-first century and the United Nations had previously called for concerted global action to contain it. The issue is associated with around 4.95 million deaths a year globally and 1.27 million deaths are directly attributed to it. AMR increases morbidity and mortality due to infectious diseases and drives up the cost of healthcare expenditure. Besides, it has the power to saturate the scarce healthcare facilities and reduce the trust in the formal healthcare system. AMR disproportionately affects the low-middle income countries when compared to high-income countries.
Intensified farming has certainly increased food animal production nationally and made meat products economically more accessible to poorer sections of the society. However, good husbandry measures are often overlooked and antibiotics are used extensively to increase output in factory-style farms. This is a big driver of antibiotic resistance and has the power to affect the sustainability of health/food systems, especially in low-resource settings. In most cases, food has become cheaper because we are simply transferring the sustainability costs to the future generations. This World Consumers Rights day, consumers should have the safety from AMR though changes in food systems, which are more sustainable and humane for animals and safe for human consumption.
Understanding the significance of tackling the AMR problem, the World Health Assembly adopted the Global Action Plan on AMR in 2015. Subsequently, the National Action Plan for AMR was launched in 2017 by the government of India. Three states in India-Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, and Delhi – have come out with their own action plans. Several other states are at various stages of drafting their action plans on AMR. Since AMR is primarily driven by antimicrobial misuse in sectors like health, agriculture, and animal husbandry farming, it is pertinent that the state governments are fully involved in the action to contain this issue.
The meeting called on the Government of India and the State governments to ensure that:
- The AMR agenda receives attention in the post-COVID19 scenario, with involvement of human health, animal welfare, fisheries, environment, and development sectors. Policy-community at various levels of governance, right from local self-government institutions to the national government, need to be sensitized about AMR as a multi-sectoral and multi-dimensional problem.
- State governments get the necessary support and resources to formulate their own multi-sectoral action plans on AMR, with active support of the civil society and academia. The action plans need to be costed and prioritized; and there should be accountability at all levels of implementation.
- There is a platform for exchange of best practices and rational strategies between the implementation machinery of various state action plans. The platform should be able to promote translation of evidence and implementation research on tackling drivers of AMR on the ground or limiting its impact in various sectors.
Shri Rajeev Sadanandan IAS (Retd), CEO of Health Systems Transformation Platform and Former Additional Chief Secretary Health, Kerala spoke on the importance of coordinated multi-sectoral actions for state action plans on AMR, “Government departments (often) operate in silos, first thing is to bring the departments together and define their role.”
Dr. Anuj Sharma, Technical Officer, WHO remarked on the economic impacts of AMR, “The World Bank identified this (AMR) as a challenge …. and the economic impact of AMR is likely to be more acutely felt in the low-middle income countries.”
Professionals and policy experts at the colloquium
Mr. Gajender K Sharma, Country Director of World Animal Protection emphasized, “The welfare of farm animals must be improved in order to stop the overuse/misuse of antibiotics in industrial farming, as it is contributing to the AMR crisis. Also, along with a multi-sectoral approach, community participation and engagement is essential to make the AMR action plans impactful.”