17 March 2017

South Africa: Call to Address Antimicrobial Resistance

Pretoria — Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana says the country has to work hard to highlight and address the animal and environmental aspect of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in South Africa and internationally.

"AMR is a 'One Health' issue, which recognizes that health of humans, animals and ecosystems are interconnected. It needs to be addressed through cross-sectoral coordination among multiple stakeholders," said Minister Zokwana.

AMR has been globally recognized as an emerging threat to public health which is linked with high disease and economic burden on people and nations. It is also linked with food, nutrition, livelihood and Sustainable Development Goals.

Speaking at the Red Meat Industry Workshop held on Thursday at the Agricultural Research Council in Pretoria, Minister Zokwana said the momentum to combat AMR has increased, following the adoption of 'Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance' in 2015.

Held under the theme "Unlocking value for every actor in the SA red meat industry and becoming a world class competitor", the workshops aimed to establish a strategic roadmap for the South African red meat industry to become a world-class competitor.

Systematic policy

Minister Zokwana said that historically, some developed countries, particularly of the European Union have been addressing AMR through systematic policy and practice initiatives, however, the scenario is different in the developing world due to limited awareness and resources as well as weak laws and implementation.

In the global context and more so in the case of the developing world, the Minister said the human side of the problem received the most attention and the environment part has been neglected.

"Limited attention has been given to animal aspects. Recognizing the challenges of the developing world, South Africa needs to aim at agreeing to implement strategies that will ensure that AMR is limited and reduced. It is apparent that the food animal production is potentially a significant contributor to emergence and spread of AMR.

"The environmental spread of AMR deserves much greater attention both in global guidance and country-level action plans. There are best practices and learnings from developed countries, which we should consider to adopt," the Minister said.

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