Considering the environment is essential to combating the AMR threat.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is escalating, threatening the health of humans and the health of animals and ecosystems. We are facing a world where medications for simple infections no longer work.

Resistance to drugs that commonly kill bacteria is a leading cause of death in humans (see figure) that is estimated to be on par with cancer by 2050.Pie chart showing Predicted mortality from AMR compared with common causes of current deaths
From United Nations Environment Programme (2023). Bracing for Superbugs: Strengthening environmental action in the One Health response to antimicrobial resistance

The human health impact is just the beginning. The consequences of AMR will be felt beyond human illness to include major economic losses, agriculture and food system disruptions. Soils, waterways and the very air we breathe will be affected.

In 2015, the World Health Organization outlined a Global Action Plan for AMR and formed a Tripartite between World Health Organization, World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). A review of the Global Action Plan identified environmental sectors were neglected, and given the importance the environment plays in AMR, it was noted it should be better included in the AMR response. In 2022, the United Nations Environment Program joined WHO, WOAH & FAO to form the Quadripartite for AMR to support a genuine One Health response to the AMR threat.

Nossal Institute has been engaging in several projects on One Health AMR. The latest was supporting a Quadripartite-led awareness raising webinar series on AMR and the environment. Global stakeholders involved in AMR prevention and mitigation attended to explore risks, potential actions, and governance options for the prevention and mitigation of AMR in the environment.

Nossal Institute is currently engaging in informal consultations across the Asia-Pacific region to identify capacity needed to strengthen AMR prevention and mitigation efforts in the environment. This includes: how to support countries to strengthen their National (AMR) Action Plans and other AMR related strategies; strengthen preventions efforts such as  infection prevention control; and explore research priorities specific to low income settings in the region. These consultations are providing a space where diverse stakeholders can share their perspectives, feedback, and recommendations to help shape new initiatives

Alison Macintyre is a Senior Technical Advisor at the Nossal Institute for Global Health. She is passionate about systems and cross-sectoral approaches to health and how they address the determinants of health.

Gillian Le is a multidisciplinary health systems researcher with an interest in the GreenHealth movement and how health systems can reduce their ecological footprint while still achieving health equity and being people-centred.

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Alison Macintyre

  • AMR