World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2022, which starts today and runs through 24 November, focuses on the urgent actions needed to stop antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which contributes to more than 5 million deaths from bacterial infections alone each year.

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites no longer respond to antimicrobial agents. As a result of drug resistance, antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents become ineffective and infections become difficult or impossible to treat, increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.

Because AMR threatens humans, animals, plants and the environment, the week-long campaign – under the theme of “Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together” – brings together leaders and communities across various sectors who are working to preserve antimicrobials and protect the health of people, plants, and animals.

The aims of the campaign are to:

–       Promote the responsible use of antimicrobials

–       Strengthen infection prevention and control in health care facilities, farms, and food industry premises

–       Ensure equitable access to vaccines, clean water, sanitation, and hygiene

–       Implement best practices in food and agriculture production

–       Guarantee sound management of waste and wastewater in relevant industries

The Quadripartite – the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH, founded as OIE) – have unified for the campaign to advance solutions to the challenge of AMR.

Collective action for AMR

The Quadripartite organizations are launching the AMR Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Platform, which aims to create a diverse, global movement for progress on AMR. The objective is to drive global action, bringing together over 200 representatives from across governments, international and intergovernmental organizations, civil society, academia, and the private sector.

New strategy to tackle antimalarial resistance in Africa

An important part of the effort involves addressing the threat to malaria treatments, and WHO is set to publish its new strategy to counter the growing problem of anti-malarial drug resistance in Africa. Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) has been the mainstay of malaria care in Africa and has played a significant role in lowering the burden of malaria over the last 2 decades.

In recent years, however, WHO has been concerned by reports of emerging drug-resistant malaria in Africa. Parasites in several areas have developed partial resistance to artemisinin – the core compound of ACTs – and there are worrying signs that they may also be resistant to other drugs that are commonly partnered with artemisinin. Vigorous measures are needed to protect their efficacy.

Third Ministerial Conference on AMR, Muscat, Oman, 24-25 November

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week will conclude with the Third Global High-Level Ministerial Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance, hosted by the Sultanate of Oman, in Muscat from 24-25 November 2022.

The conference will bring together health, agriculture and environment ministers to discuss the Muscat Manifesto, which sets out targets on AMR, with clear indicators and milestones for antimicrobial use in both the human and animal sectors:

1.    Reduce the total amount of antimicrobials used in the agri-food system by at least 30-50% from the current level by 2030.

2.    Preserve critically important antimicrobials for human medicine, including by ending the use of medically important antimicrobials for growth promotion.

3.    Ensure that ‘Access’ group antibiotics account for at least 60% of overall antibiotic consumption in humans by 2030.

The conference outcomes will inform commitments to be discussed at the forthcoming UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AMR in 2024.