FAO calls for greater efforts to curb antimicrobial resistance

The logo of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) agency of the United Nations is pictured within a plenary assembly for the election of the new FAO Director-General on June 23, 2019 at the FAO headquarters in Rome. (Photo: AFP)

ROME, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Wednesday called on countries, organizations and individual actors to accelerate efforts to curb the spread of superbugs, which FAO said threaten to turn into the next pandemic.

In a statement released to mark the start of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, FAO said the threat of antimicrobial resistance -- defined by the World Health Organization as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites that evolve to become resistant to medicines, making them more difficult to treat -- is on the rise, with "serious implications for global health, agri-food systems and economies."

Rome-based FAO said that at least 700,000 people die each year from drug-resistant diseases.

"COVID-19 has shown us that human, animal and environmental health are more interdependent than ever before," FAO's statement said. "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."

FAO said the rise of antimicrobial resistance is "potentially even more dangerous than COVID-19."

FAO issued a series of guidelines to curb the spread of antimicrobial resistance for farmers; food chain workers and consumers; policymakers; resource partners; health, agriculture, environment, and veterinary researchers; non-governmental advocacy groups; animal health professionals and private stakeholders.

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, which will include a series of discussion groups meeting via digital hookup, will conclude on Nov. 24.