What should Indian states do to prevent antimicrobial resistance?

New Delhi: “Our response to the crisis of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is now not just limited to human health. The action that is needed from stakeholders of the food, animal, crop, and waste sectors is now becoming clear,” said CSE director general Sunita Narain, here while inaugurating a national consultation jointly organized by CSE and World Health Organization-India.

The consultation was part of a series of initiatives planned by CSE to mark the World AMR Awareness Week, observed every year from November 18-24. Over 50 stakeholders from more than 15 states in India came together to discuss the action required in states to prevent and contain antimicrobial resistance, a ‘silent pandemic’ with severe known impacts on health, livelihood, and development.

Speaking at the consultation, Dr Roderico H Ofrin, WHO Representative to India, said: “It is critical for all states and Union territories to develop their State Action Plans for Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance… using a One Health approach that engages all key stakeholders across sectors.”

Amit Khurana, director of the sustainable food systems programme, at CSE, echoed Dr. Ofrin’s views. “As concerns related to health, animal husbandry, fisheries, agriculture, pollution control, water and sanitation are best addressed at the state level, states should take the lead in multi-sectoral action in India,” he said.

The consultation also saw the release of a joint CSE-WHO report, ‘One Health Action to Prevent and Contain AMR in Indian States and Union Territories’, which has been put together based on suggestions received from experts and stakeholders in state government departments of health, animal husbandry, agriculture, pollution control, food, and drugs.

The report details cost-effective, implementable, and impactful policy and on-the-ground interventions across human health, livestock, fisheries, crops, and environment sectors. The actions are aligned to key areas such as awareness building and education, surveillance, AMR prevention and control, and optimized antibiotic use.

“For countries like ours, the agenda should be about development without much use of chemicals in food production. It should be about prevention as we cannot afford the cost of AMR. It should also be about conserving the last-resort antibiotics and managing the waste well to contain the AMR spread,” concluded Narain.

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