- Health

FAO, Lao Government working together to address antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobials are crucial medicines used to fight many serious diseases and treat infections in humans, animals, and plants. In recent years, antimicrobials have been used unnecessarily, been overused, misused, underused by not completing the full course prescribed, and used as growth promoters in livestock production.

These harmful practices have led to the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The AMR micro-organisms can spread through the food chain and the environment and infect humans.

To ensure that people acknowledge the threats caused by AMR and its future consequences, in May 2015, a global action plan to tackle AMR was endorsed at the World Health Assembly, supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The first objective of the plan was to ‘improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication, education and training’. With this joint force, the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) has been introduced between 18 and 24 November, every year, since 2015.

This WAAW event aims to increase awareness of AMR and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers, farmers, animal health professionals and policymakers to avoid the further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections. This year, the theme for WAAW 2021 is “Spread awareness, stop resistance”.

In the Lao PDR, the 2021 WAAW event received support from a wide range of stakeholders: the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Health, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners such as the UK AID and the Fleming Fund.

FAO supported the Lao PDR, to develop a cross-sectorial national AMR strategy and a national action plan on AMR, to reduce the threat of AMR in agriculture, livestock, fisheries, and food production.

This includes regulating responsible use of antimicrobials (AMU) and the detection and prevention of acquired AMR. With expertise on AMR, FAO is working with the Department of Livestock and Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, to guide prudent use and best practices.

As expressed by Mr. Nasar Hayat, FAO Representative in Lao PDR, “AMR could be managed and prevented. It is a matter of awareness-raising: “Do you KNOW”. I strongly believe that all Lao people are willing to contribute to stopping AMR, once they know how to.”

FAO recently produced about LAK250 million worth of antimicrobial resistance risk communication materials in its bid to support the Lao PDR government’s effort to raise awareness on antimicrobial resistance. The United Kingdom Agency for International Development through the Fleming Fund supported the production and distribution of the materials to officials of the Lao Department of Livestock and Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) on Friday, 10 December 2021.

These materials, which consist of promotional and educational tools, namely polo-shirts, caps, bags, a series of awareness posters and the ‘Booklet of Agreement on the Use of Antimicrobial Drugs in Animals and Aquaculture Sectors’, will be used to support the series of awareness-raising activities to be conducted throughout the country until the end of 2021. In this regard, Dr. Phouth Inthavong, Deputy Director General of Department of Livestock and Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), expressed gratitude to UKAID and FAO for their support in helping the Government of the Lao PDR tackle an alarming surge on antimicrobial resistance in common bacteria in the livestock sector.

Source: Lao News Agency