CSE organises global meet on antimicrobial resistance, calls AMR as catastrophic as COVID-19 and climate change

The ‘silent’ pandemic of AMR is as catastrophic as COVID-19 and as chronic as climate change, say experts at Asia-Africa meet on containing AMR 

Niti Aayog member Vinod Paul and biotech secretary Renu Swarup speak in inaugural session, confirm the Indian government’s commitment to action against AMR 

Over 100 other experts from Asia and Africa are attending a three-day virtual workshop organised by CSE 

Need for wider adoption of the ‘One-Health’ approach to deal with AMR reiterated by experts 

To access the workshop details and recordings, presentations etc. of the inaugural session Click here

New Delhi, March 23, 2021: “In a year when a pandemic has brought the world to a grinding halt, we must step back and imagine the scale of human tragedy if we lose the ability to get well, if medicine stops working, due to antimicrobial resistance (AMR),” said Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) director general Sunita Narain, while inaugurating a virtual global workshop on AMR, organised here today by CSE. 

Titled ‘Containing the Silent Pandemic’, the three-day workshop (March 22-24, 2021) has brought together over 100 experts from 26 countries to discuss the future agenda on containing the scourge of AMR through the ‘One-Health’ approach. The One-Health approach implies greater synergy between the human, animal and environmental health sectors. 

Among the notable participantsat the workshop are (besides Narain herself) Renu Swarup, secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Union Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India; Vinod Paul, member, Niti Aayog, Government of India; Roderico H Ofrin, WHO representative to India; and speakers from Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Iran, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. 

AMR is estimated to account for 700,000 deaths every year the world over. By 2050, if the world does not take any action, 10 million lives will be at risk every year from this phenomenon, and 90 per cent of them in Asia and Africa. Says Amit Khurana, programme director, food safety and toxins unit, CSE: “It is important to realise that AMR – the phenomenon which makes disease-causing germs resistant to the drugs designed to kill them – is also a pandemic of epic proportions, and needs immediate intervention.” 

In her address, Renu Swarup expressed the hope that the experience of dealing with a public health crisis like COVID-19 will translate into better action against AMR in India. “The way the scientific community has risen up to the challenge of COVID-19 gives us confidence in dealing with AMR,” she said. “Hopefully, the emergency response of the last one year has trained us to increase the pace of the One-Health approach against AMR even as we scale it up. In fact, we do not need to wait for the pandemic to end to take our work on AMR forward,” she added. 

Vinod Paul pointed out that developing nations like India and the countries of Africa will bear the brunt of AMR due to their economic and demographic flux. “We need to prepare better by improving coordination between human, animal and environmental health sectors,” he added. 

Outlining the magnitude of the problem, Roderico Ofrin, in his inaugural address, said: “Of all the antimicrobials manufactured, only 30 per cent are used by humans and 70 per cent in animals. Up to 80 per cent of these antimicrobials are excreted into the environment. These numbers should serve as a clarion call for wider adoption of the One-Health approach.” 

Narain asserted that the war against AMR cannot be won “if we do not reinvent the pathway of our health security.”She said: “We need to ensure access to antimicrobials for all. At the same time, we need to prevent excess of antimicrobials anywhere. For this, we need to set new agendas. A conservation agenda to ensure that antimicrobials which are critically important to human health are not used in livestock or food. A development agenda to ensure we continue to increase food production without the use of antimicrobials. An environmental agenda to ensure that waste from pharmas and other sources is properly tracked. And a prevention agenda to prevent pollution and overuse of chemicals.”

Dr Paul endorsed CSE’s suggestion on balancing of ‘access’ and ‘excess’ – antibiotics must be diverted to where they are needed the most – and assured the Niti Aayog’s complete support on the agenda against AMR.

Panelists from Africa and Asia outlined the measures being taken for and the challenges in the effective implementation of National AMR Action Plans (NAPs), mainstreaming AMR in national healthcare agendas, effective adoption of the One-Health approach and political commitment and funding to contain AMR in their respective countries. 

The discrepancy between policy and implementation with regard to AMR was highlighted by several panelists. Said Jackie Miamin, chief executive officer, Independent Community Pharmacy Association, South Africa, "We need to find the political will to ensure drug takeback and introduce antimicrobial EPR legislations." Many panelists also underlined the importance of funding if scientific and policy efforts against AMR are to fructify. As Wande Alimi, AMR programme coordinator, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention put it, “We need guaranteed funding for AMR action, otherwise all these amazing NAPs and other programmes will remain on paper.” 

Chairing a later session on the first day, Anuj Sharma, technical officer-AMR, Lab and IPC, WHO Country Office for India, said: “The sharing of stories, of successes and failures, of our national and local fights against AMR is a must. It will help us learn from each other’s experience.” 

Note: The workshop is by invitation. If you are interested to join, please write to deepak.bhati@cseindia.orgor divya.singh@cseindia.org. 

The concluding session of the workshop will be live-streamed Click here: 

For any other information and interviews, please contact: Sukanya Nair of The CSE Media ResourceCentre, sukanya.nair@cseindia.org, 8816818864



Press Release
March 24-25, 2021
The world recognises the threat posed by antimicrobial resistance (AMR), but on-ground action is slow – say experts at CSE’s Africa-Asia meet
Inaugural session
Concluding session
Download full programme
Implementation of National Action Plans
Political commitment and funding
National expectations from global governance
Role of civil society and media
AMR from food-production settings and environmental routes