Project launched to deal with environmental aspects of antimicrobial resistance

New Delhi : A new project has been launched in the country to address the environmental dimensions of the public health issue of anti-microbial resistance (AMR).

The project — Priorities for the Environmental Dimension of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in India –is a collaborative one between the UN Environment Programme and Indian Council of Medical Research.

Antimicrobial resistance is a multi-faceted, complex global public health issue owing to its significant linkages with human health, animals and environment.

While aspects addressing AMR from the human health perspective have received much attention, focus on the environmental dimensions of AMR has been limited.

This includes the effects of discharging antibiotics and other antimicrobial compounds, such as disinfectants and heavy metals, into the natural environment which have the potential to drive the evolution of resistant bacteria.

The project aims to strengthen environmental aspects of national and state-level AMR strategies and action plans.

It will undertake secondary research and stakeholder consultations to enhance understanding of the environmental dimension of AMR in India.

“AMR in the environment is an issue inadequately recognised by the stakeholders. It is critical to understand that we have to engage with the environment as a critical part of our AMR response. I am happy to highlight that this initiative taken by UNEP has substantiated convergence of both these sectors,” said Lav Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Outreach activities targeting environmental authorities and ministries at the regional and state levels in the country are also planned.

The work will also contribute to a regional brief on the environmental dimensions of AMR being prepared by UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

UNEP is supporting this project in India under the larger framework of environment and health, which is being led by the Inter-Ministerial Steering Group on Environment and Health (EH), co-chaired by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

ICMR-National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), which is the Anti-Microbial Resistance Hub of ICMR, will implement this project.

In December 2017, the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) recognised that AMR is an increasing threat to global health, food, security and sustainable development, and underlined the need to further understand the role of environment in the development and spread of AMR.

UNEP is working to provide evidence that can inform national and global strategies.