Global monitoring of antimicrobial resistance must improve

Monitoring of antimicrobial resistance in the environment and among wild animals is currently inadequate. The Norwegian Veterinary Institute (NVI) participates in an international network that will map the need for new knowledge about antibiotic resistance, what is known and how monitoring data can be compared.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) agree that monitoring of antibiotics/antimicrobial resistant bacteria (AMR) should be seen in a comprehensive ‘one health’ approach involving resistance in the environment and in animals and humans.

The ‘one health’ concept views animal health and public health as interrelated. Diseases can spread across national and species boundaries, especially in a globalized world where people, fish and cattle cross national borders to a greater extent than ever before. This also applies to antimicrobial resistance.

“Despite clear international goals, we lack surveillance with a focus on antimicrobial resistance in the environment and among wild animals. This type of surveillance done in the world today is limited and unfortunately is not standardized so that the designs and data are different. This prevents synergy and the opportunity to compare data between projects and research work worldwide,” says senior researcher Marianne Sunde at the NVI. She emphasises that this was pointed out in 2013 in the strategic research agenda "Joint Program Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance" (JPIAMR).

An international consortium of researchers, of which the NVI is a part, has now received funding from JPIAMR to if possible remedy this through the project "Wildlife, Agricultural Soils, Water environments and antimicrobial resistance - what is known, needed and feasible for global environmental surveillance" (WAWES). "The WAWES network will identify what we already know about the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in wild animals, agricultural soil and aquatic environments.

In addition, the project will bring to the foreknowledge about what is necessary and what is feasible for further global environmental monitoring.

The WAWAS network consists of 27 partners from 16 countries around the globe representing everything from low to high-income levels. The NVI, represented by senior researcher Marianne Sunde, is one of these partners.

The WAWES participants have a common goal of finding a way to conduct global comparative monitoring of AMR in wildlife and the environment, found in most countries regardless of financial resources. Due to the complexity of the environment, WAWES will, in the first phase, focus on wild animals, agricultural areas and aquatic environments, including wastewater.

“The Veterinary Institute will contribute with expertise and experience in research on antibiotic resistance, establishment and implementation of monitoring programs and knowledge in veterinary microbiology,” says senior researcher Marianne Sunde.

The WAWES network is managed by Stefan Børjesson at the Swedish National Veterinary Institute (SVA).

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