Open Letter to the Ministers of Health and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Open Letter to the Ministers of Health and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Our organisation Consumer Fair has championed consumer rights and interests in our country for many years. We are also part of the international consumer movement that is working to combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the world. We therefore appeal to you to help bring global attention to this issue at the upcoming high-level meeting during the United Nations General Assembly.

We are requesting that you work to ensure that the Political Declaration resulting from this important meeting supports a ‘One Health’ approach that addresses agriculture and human health.

The recent discovery of antibiotic resistance in bacteria taken from people and animals around the world to Colistin, a last line antibiotic that is rarely used in human medicine but used extensively in food animal production, clearly points to the transmission of resistance from agriculture to humans.

To effectively curb AMR we will need global commitments and multi-sectoral action.

We therefore ask that the South African delegation recognise the role of agriculture in the selection and spread of anti-microbial resistance and promote multi-sectoral action in all areas covered in the Political Declaration including stewardship, innovation and surveillance.

* Stewardship: Protecting the efficacy of existing antibiotics must be the priority of the document. It should clearly call for an end to the use of antibiotics for growth promotion and disease prevention in animal agriculture, as well as end to the misuse of antibiotics in human medicine.

* Innovation: The document must call for the transformation of healthcare delivery systems and enabling more sustainable agricultural systems with improved sanitation that do not rely upon the routine use of antibiotics to prevent disease. As well as supporting innovation of new health technologies in human medicine, the document must also support investment in vaccines, diagnostics, and alternatives to antimicrobials to curb AMR across agriculture and human health.

* Monitoring: Finally, the document should call for monitoring antibiotic use, sales, prescriptions, trade, and resistance patterns within both human and animal health domains to inform the development of country-specific policies to curb AMR and to help identify emerging global resistance health threats.

Given the severity and the global nature of the antimicrobial resistance threat, we ask you to ensure that the document includes clear recognition that action by individual countries is not enough and that multi-lateral cooperation and strong international standards and guidelines are needed to support national efforts. To further this, we ask that you support the creation of a UN-level mechanism to support international cooperation and coordination across all UN agencies on combating this deadly threat to public health.

Given the serious public health consequences and staggering costs, we hope that our delegation will support stronger and more coordinated international action on combating antimicrobial resistance both in this forum and elsewhere. This should include supporting the work of the recently created Codex Alimentarius Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance.

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