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Codex News Item, 27 November 2017
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) antimicrobial resistance is an increasingly serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society.
What is AMR?
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, viruses, and some parasites) to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials) from working against it. As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others. (WHO)
Codex Task Force
The Codex Alimentarius Commission agreed in July 2016 to re-establish the Intergovernmental Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance in order to revise and update the Codex code of practice on AMR and, for the first time, to set guidelines for integrated AMR surveillance that can be adopted by Codex members.
The re-established Task Force meets for the first time today on Jeju island in the Republic of Korea, chaired by Yong Ho Park, Professor of veterinary medicine at Seoul National University.
Speaking of the risk of not acting on AMR Professor Park said “there are estimates that by 2050 the deaths from AMR will be higher than those from cancer or HIV/AIDS. We need surveillance and monitoring programmes and there must be an emphasis on education. We also need effective risk communication from stakeholders to the public.”
“Codex is the coordinator in the farm to fork process” he said, describing the central role Codex performs dealing with food safety as the chain moves on to food security and human health.
Steve Wearne is Director of Policy and Science Group at the UK Food Standards Agency and Vice Chair of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. He also chaired the 2016 Codex physical Working Group on antimicrobial resistance in London. The work being undertaken in Codex can be taken up by countries “in a stepwise manner to reflect their capabilities. These new texts (will) complement the national plans that many countries are developing, rather than distract from them,” he said.
In wishing delegates a successful meeting, the Chair of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Guilherme da Costa described AMR as a “threat to public health globally” and said that it would be through “the active participation” of all stakeholders that “Codex will be able to perform its role in protecting consumer health.”
The spread of AMR
Antimicrobial drugs play a critical role in the treatment of human, terrestrial and aquatic animals, and plant diseases. However, the inappropriate use of antimicrobials, e.g misuses ad overuse, in the livestock sector, in aquaculture as well as in crop production can contribute to the potential risk of the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistant micro-organisms. (FAO).