Global Leaders Group call for action to tackle antimicrobial waste

Discharge management from food systems, manufacturing facilities and human health systems into the environment is key, says document  

By Gursimrat Sandhu
Published: Thursday 03 March 2022

Responsible and sustainable use of antimicrobials in humans, terrestrials and human health systems is the most important method to control AMR spread from food and human health systems, according to Global Leaders Group (GLG) on Antimicrobial Resistance.

The group consisting of various heads of states, representatives of foundations and civil societies and leaders from the private sector presented key intervention areas for countries in a call-to-action (CTA) document issued March 2, 2022. 

The interventions included researching and implementing measures to safely dispose of antimicrobial waste from food, human and animal health systems and manufacturing facilities.

The call comes ahead of the United Nations Environment Assembly, which was held in Nairobi, Kenya from February 28-March 2, 2022.

Countries should develop guidance, implement and monitor release of antimicrobials from food systems, manufacturing facilities and human health systems into the environment, according to the CTA. This should be done considering the prevention and management measures in national action plans on AMR, its aid.

The antimicrobial manufacturing sector should develop national antimicrobial manufacturing pollution standards to better control and monitor antimicrobial pollution, the document read.

For the human health sector, countries should develop and implement antimicrobial stewardship policies, according to GLG. Antimicrobial stewardship ensures the sustainable use of antimicrobials and effective waste management approaches. 

Governments should enforce laws to reduce antimicrobial use that’s not done under the guidance of a trained healthcare provider, ensuring equitable access to quality antimicrobials, the group suggested. 

Waste discharge from food-producing animal farms, aquaculture farms and crop fields must be effectively treated and / or managed in food systems, the CTA said. Antimicrobial stewardship should also be developed and implemented here. 

International technical organisations working on food systems should develop tools and guidance to support the implementation of the Codex Code of practice to minimise and contain foodborne AMR, GLG noted.

Surveillance and data availability are critical for making an informed decision. The group called for strengthening One Health surveillance of use and discharge of antimicrobials and determinants from various sectors.

Research and development in this area should be enhanced to gain a comprehensive understanding of the risks to human and animal health posed by antimicrobials in the environment, according to the document. 

Cost-effective and greener waste management technologies should be explored, it said, adding that this is critical for policymakers who want to support evidence-based policymaking.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.