GLOBAL – In a resolute effort to tackle one of the most formidable global health threats, a pioneering report titled “A One Health Priority Research Agenda for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)” has emerged, outlining vital research areas to counter the rise of AMR at the interface of agrifood, healthcare, and the environment.
AMR, a menacing adversary, undermines our ability to combat infections effectively and poses an imminent danger to public health worldwide.
The comprehensive “One Health” approach, delving into the intricate connection between humans, animals, plants, and the environment, seeks to unveil the strategies that will safeguard humans against this perilous enemy.
Published by the Quadripartite, an esteemed alliance comprising the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH), and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the report embarks on a mission to preserve the efficacy of antimicrobials and ensure equitable access, without compromising sustainability, for responsible use in human, animal, and plant health.
Through stakeholder and expert engagement, literature reviews, a global online survey, and a consensus exercise, the report identifies five pillars of priority research areas: transmission, integrated surveillance, interventions, behavioral insights and change, and economics and policy.
Key research areas
Within these pillars, two key research areas specific to agrifood systems have been unveiled, i.e., Transmission and Interventions.
Amidst concerns over the development and circulation of AMR in diverse geographical settings, the report highlights the significance of studying effluents and solid waste from agrifood systems, along with their management and treatment. Understanding their role in perpetuating AMR is crucial to devising effective mitigation strategies.
The report raises crucial questions about how existing food production systems can be integrated to enhance One Health AMR interventions.
By investigating the relative impact of various measures like infection prevention and control (IPC), farm biosecurity, food safety, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), and integrated pest management (IPM), the aim is to identify the most effective means of combating AMR occurrence.
Moreover, economic policy and change emerge as critical factors, prompting a need to explore the potential negative impacts of changes in antimicrobial use (AMU) on the food supply and AMR management in the food system.
Particularly, understanding how low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) can create an enabling environment for AMR prevention and control in their unique contexts takes center stage.
Consolidating the ten most pivotal research priorities, the report sets forth a roadmap to strengthen research capacity in the realm of One Health AMR over the next 4 to 8 years.
These actionable priorities encompass investigating the impact of various IPC practices in One Health settings on AMR development and circulation, with a focus on conditions relevant to LMICs. Understanding the transmission of resistant microorganisms between humans, animals, plants, and the environment becomes paramount, according to the report.
The research calls for the identification of optimum strategies and minimum standards for establishing and maintaining integrated AMR surveillance systems at scale. Integrating existing surveillance data from humans, animals, plants, and the environment enables early identification of resistance development across One Health sectors.
According to the Quadripartite, analyzing how impactful One Health interventions for AMR control and mitigation can be effectively translated and scaled across different contexts or resource settings. Addressing challenges in collecting and analyzing data for risk assessment and intervention impact assessment in LMICs stands as a critical objective.
They also point out the need of unraveling structural challenges and barriers to AMR-related behaviors in diverse sociocultural contexts noting that finding ways to adapt effective behavioral interventions from one context to another becomes vital.
In addition, the quadripartite notes the importance of crafting an optimal socioeconomic impact assessment for One Health AMR based on cost-effective and accurate data collection in low-resource settings.
Identifying, prioritizing, and institutionalizing relevant cross-cutting and sector-specific AMR policy options and financing strategies, they say, is paramount to sustainable AMR combat across One Health sectors.
In a world where health knows no borders, this report aims to ignite collaborative efforts between policymakers, researchers, and the scientific community to propel AMR prevention and mitigation to a new era.
By harnessing the power of One Health, nations can fortify their defenses against the AMR juggernaut and secure a healthier, safer future for all.