Drug resistant diseases threaten to become next pandemic

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Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is threatening to turn into the next pandemic with serious implications for global health, agri-food systems and economies, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has warned.

According to the report published on the FAO website on Wednesday, the FAO called on “farmers to cooks, producers to consumers, to accelerate effort to prevent the spread of drug-resistant microbes”.

“Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of microbes to persist or grow in the presence of drugs designed to inhibit them,” it said.

In the report, the FAO said everyone has a role to play to combat AMR, including others across the food and agriculture sectors. It rolled out recommendations to curb the spread of AMR.

“Currently, at least 700,000 people die each year due to drug resistant diseases.

“More and more common diseases, including respiratory tract infections, sexually transmitted infections and urinary tract infections, are becoming harder to treat.

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“Drug resistance is also increasingly threatening our agri-food systems and global food security,” the report said.

It said, “COVID-19 has shown us that human, animal and environmental health are more interdependent than ever before”.

“Pathogens affecting one area can exacerbate challenges in others and have an enormous impact on how we prevent and control health threats to safeguard the world.

“AMR is one of these global threats and it is potentially even more dangerous than COVID-19. It is profoundly changing life as we know it,” it said.

In the report, the deputy director-general, Maria Semedo, also weighed in.

She said, “just like the COVID-19 pandemic, AMR is no longer a future threat. It is happening here and now and is affecting us all.

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“Around the world people, animals and plants are already dying of infections that cannot be treated, even with our strongest antimicrobial treatments.

“If AMR is left unchecked, the next pandemic we face could be bacterial and much deadlier if the drugs needed to treat it do not work,” Ms Semedo said.

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