Health & agri must work together to stop AMR
Why the health and agriculture sectors need to work together to stop antibiotic resistance.Researchers must have opportunities to talk to those outside their speciality
If we view and treat antimicrobial resistance solely as a medical health problem, we neglect behavioural, environmental, agricultural, economic and social contributions.
Overuse of antimicrobials in both animals and humans contributes to antimicrobial resistance.
In farm animals, one concern internationally has been the over-use of antibiotics as “growth promoters” or to prevent illness rather than just to treat sick animals.
Inadequately treated waste streams from households, hospitals and farms using antimicrobials release antimicrobials into the environment. This may encourage growth of resistant microorganisms. These waste streams can also release resistance genes and resistant microorganisms into the environment, where they can act as reservoirs for genetic exchange and further development of resistance
Resistant microorganisms and resistance genes can potentially be geographically spread, and later reintroduced into animals and humans via agricultural activities and the food chain.
So interventions need to target antimicrobial use in humans and animals, as well as control the spread of resistant bacteria and resistance genes through improved waste treatment. Interventions in one sector may not improve the overall problem if any one intervention is offset by counterproductive practices in any other.
Globalisation complicates this even further. Interventions in one country may have a benefit, but be of limited value, if not taken up by other countries. This is why a global approach to antimicrobial resistance is so important.
To implement the “one health” approach, we need collaborations between disciplines and across sectors. However, these collaborations are not always easy. Researchers are often entrenched in their disciplinary silos.
Researchers must have opportunities to talk to those outside their speciality, be open to new ideas, and make efforts to understand each other’s discipline-specific language. Interdisciplinary university coursesplay an important part in creating future leaders who can move easily between disciplines.
Funding bodies must also catch up; interdisciplinary grant applications are often reviewed by discipline-specific panels resulting in higher failure rates. This actively disincentivises research across disciplines.
Effective collaboration between life and environmental sciences, social sciences, and policy makers will be crucial for implementing successful evidence-based policy.
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