To reduce superbugs, world must cut down pollution: UNEP report


Bhubaneswar: With strains of bacteria or “superbugs” developing resistance to every known antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and taking a serious toll on the health of humans, animals and plants as well as the economy, taking stock of pollution created by pharmaceuticals, agricultural and healthcare sectors is  crucial to combat their emergence and transmission.

According to a report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on the environmental dimensions of AMR, the rise of the superbugs phenomenon was a crisis disproportionately affecting countries in the Global South countries with modern medicine no longer able to treat even mild infections.

This is the key message of a report released today by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on the environmental dimensions of AMR, which already is taking a serious toll on the health of humans, animals, and plants, as well as the economy.

The report, Bracing for Superbugs: Strengthening environmental action in the One Health response to antimicrobial resistance, launched at the Sixth Meeting of the Global Leaders Group on AMR in Barbados called for a multisectoral One Health Response as 4.95 million deaths worldwide were associated with bacterial AMR (including those directly attributable to AMR).

Listed by the WHO among the top 10 global threats to health, AMR is expected to cause 10 million additional direct deaths annually by 2050. This equals the number of deaths caused globally by cancer in 2020.The economic toll of AMR is expected to result in a GDP drop of at least USD 3.4 trillion annually by 2030, pushing 24 million more people into extreme poverty.

The report highlighted comprehensive measures to address both the decline of the environment and the rise of AMR, especially addressing key pollution sources from poor sanitation, sewage, community and municipal wastes which included robust and coherent national level governance, planning, regulatory and legal frameworks, global efforts to improve integrated water management and promote water, sanitation and hygiene, establish international standards for what constitutes a good microbiological indicator of AMR from environmental samples, Environmental monitoring and surveillance and further research prioritization, etc.

Speaking at the event, Executive Director of UNEP Inger Andersen said the impacts of anti-microbial resistance could destroy our health and food systems. “Pollution of air, soil, and waterways undermines the human right to a clean and healthy environment. The same drivers that cause environment degradation are worsening the antimicrobial resistance problem. Cutting down pollution is a prerequisite for another century of progress towards zero hunger and good health,” he said.



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