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Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together

Posted by Dr. Neena Anandaraman, Veterinary Science Policy Advisor, USDA Office of the Chief Scientist in Research and Science
Nov 21, 2023
A zoomed in photo of fungi in a petri dish

It’s World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (November 18-24) — a time to raise global understanding around antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and what is being done to tackle it. This year’s theme is “preventing antimicrobial resistance together and that is exactly what the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is doing.

Let’s start at square one, what does AMR mean exactly? Simply put, antimicrobial resistance is a natural process in which microbes continually evolve to resist and survive substances that should kill or inhibit them. These substances could be produced by the environment, other microbes, or are antimicrobials developed by people.

Why is AMR such a major world concern? AMR can result in resistance to antimicrobial drugs, including antibiotics, rendering them ineffective to fighting off disease.

What is being done to tackle AMR? Science has advanced the understanding of AMR through decades of domestic and global study. Recognizing that the health of humans, animals and the environment are all interconnected, the scientific community has been increasingly working together to better understand and limit the health risks from AMR for all sectors as a shared responsibility.

However, there is still much to learn about the risks that various AMR microbes and genes in different settings pose for human, animal and environmental health before we can develop and implement effective risk mitigation strategies.

Therefore, USDA has developed the “USDA Strategy to Address Antimicrobial Resistance 2023 (PDF, 1.6 MB).” The Strategy identifies priority areas in the food and agriculture sector that will contribute to accelerating our understanding of and efforts to mitigate AMR risk.

The Strategy is organized around three areas of focus and 10 priorities for collaborative action by USDA and its partners:

Area of Focus 1: Reduce disease and pathogen transmission.

  • Priority 1: Improve animal and crop health.
  • Priority 2: Promote biosecurity.
  • Priority 3: Promote food safety.

Area of Focus 2: Improve the scientific knowledge base on AMR risk.

  • Priority 4: Continuously improve data infrastructure using a One Health approach.
  • Priority 5: Support science and research across sectors to inform risk analysis.
  • Priority 6: Improve understanding of drivers of antimicrobial use.
  • Priority 7: Enhance feedback loops between (1) monitoring and surveillance; (2) research; and (3) education and outreach.

Area of Focus 3: Improve communication and collaboration within USDA and with national, regional and global partners to address AMR risk.

  • Priority 8: Enhance partnerships through building trust.
  • Priority 9: Improve knowledge dissemination and include contextual information.
  • Priority 10: Develop and deliver science-based solutions locally and globally.

Through this Strategy, USDA will integrate and build upon the work its agencies and offices do every day and the collaborations with their partners to better understand and address AMR.

Visit USDA’s updated AMR webpage to read the full Strategy and for more information on the Department’s AMR efforts: Antimicrobial Resistance Overview (AMR)

Category/Topic: Research and Science