CANADA – The federal, provincial, and territorial (FPT) governments in Canada have united in a five-year commitment to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR) through a comprehensive action plan. 

Developed by the FPT Steering Committee, this plan emphasizes a One Health approach that recognizes the interconnectedness of human health, animal health, agriculture, and the environment in addressing AMR.

In 2018, Canada witnessed an estimated loss of nearly 15 lives per day due to resistant infections, with AMR placing a significant burden on the healthcare system and the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). 

The economic impact of AMR on healthcare costs reached U.S$1.4 billion, while the broader economic impact on the GDP amounted to U.S$2.0 billion. Recognizing the urgency of the issue, global consensus supports adopting a multi-sectoral approach to mitigate the emergence and spread of AMR.

The overuse of antibiotics, particularly medically important antimicrobials (MIA), in animal agriculture has been a significant contributor to the rise of AMR worldwide. 

In Canada, approximately 82% of all MIAs sold by volume in 2020 were intended for use in food-producing animals and horses, surpassing the amount used for human treatment. However, surveillance data indicate a decrease in antimicrobial use (AMU) on broiler chicken, grower-finisher pig, and turkey farms between 2016 and 2020.

Blueprint for action

The newly introduced five-year action plan (2023-2027) establishes a comprehensive framework for strengthening Canada’s collective response to AMR from a One Health perspective. 

This plan demonstrates the commitment of health and agriculture leaders across the country, responding to the calls for collaboration from NGOs, healthcare and veterinary sectors, research communities, and industry stakeholders. 

It operates on four guiding principles: One Health, Equity, Domestic, and International Collaboration, and Momentum.

The action plan outlines ten priority actions organized into five pillars that mutually reinforce each other to maximize their impact including Research and Innovation, Surveillance, Stewardship, Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), and Leadership.

The action plan encourages jurisdictions, sectors, and disciplines across Canada to identify their contributions to AMR efforts based on their unique contexts and stakeholders. 

The agriculture and agrifood industries are specifically tasked with advancing appropriate AMU, promoting IPC and good animal management practices, and implementing control programs in farmed animal production to safeguard animal health and maintain food quality.

Long-term commitment

Recognizing that sustained commitment is crucial, the partners involved in developing the action plan acknowledge the need for ongoing efforts beyond the five-year period. 

Progress made on the ten priority actions will be closely monitored and transparently reported to ensure accountability.

Public education campaigns, continued research and innovation, and enhanced international collaboration are essential elements in the fight against AMR. 

It is imperative for healthcare professionals, veterinarians, farmers, and consumers to play their roles in promoting responsible antimicrobial use, infection prevention, and animal welfare practices.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently launched its Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS) report, emphasizing the urgent need for global action to combat AMR. 

The report highlights the alarming rise of drug-resistant infections worldwide and the growing threat they pose to public health. It underlines the importance of robust surveillance systems and coordinated efforts across sectors to address this global health challenge.

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