Turning ambition into action is what the Third Global High Level Ministerial Conference on anti-microbial resistance plans to achieve through the two-day discussions being held in Muscat.
The conference aims to accelerate tackling the anti-microbial resistance (AMR) at the national, regional and global levels, as well as to promote international cooperation.
At the opening ceremony, Minister of Health, Dr Hilal bin Ali al Sabti, said fighting microbes is one of the ten challenges concerning human health. He said that if measures are not taken, globally, by 2050 it could cause 10 million deaths annually and have an impact on GDP.
More than 40 representatives from different countries are participating in the event which also wraps up the awareness week on anti-microbial resistance.
Speaking to the Observer on the sidelines of the meeting, the minister said that there is the Muscat Manifesto that is coming up from this highly important ministerial meeting.
He said, “The reason why this event is important is because of the policies and procedures that will come out of this meeting. The manifesto is important for all of us as it will ultimately show the roadmap as guiding on how we are going to streamline the processes in the future for preventing the abuse or overuse of antibiotics.”
The conference is being conducted through keynote speeches, case studies to demonstrate best practices, and interactive discussions between participants, as well as an interactive dialogue on 'One Health' action to address the AMR pandemic. The theme of the conference this year is "The AMR Pandemic: From Policy to One Health Action".
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said he hopes that, “This meeting will pave towards bold and concrete political will.”
In his address, Dr Qu Dongyu, Director-General of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said that AMR is one of the top 10 global public health challenges, causing approximately 1.3 million deaths every year.
He said, “The impact of AMR, however, goes far beyond human health, threatening animal health and welfare, the environment, food and nutrition security and safety, and economic growth.”
According to the FAO official, to curb the rise of AMR, a 'One Health' approach is needed that enables actors from different sectors to design intervention strategies that synergise and complement each other, resulting in one coherent global effort to tackle AMR.
He pointed out, “70 per cent of anti-microbials sold globally are used in production animals.”
The deputy prime minister and minister of health and vice-chair of One Health Global Leaders Group on AMR, Malta, Chris Fearne, said that there is plenty of data on humans, but not enough on animals and no data on plants and environment and this is a concern.
“The extend of anti-microbial resistance is well-known in humans because we have about 5 million deaths attributed to anti-microbial resistance. But we do not have enough data when it comes to animal health, plant health and environment. Therefore, surveillance not only on humans, but on animals, plants and environment is essential if we want to have antibiotics that will work in the next few years,” he explained.
The conference concludes on Friday.