Global efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR) have been described as “insufficient” by scientists at the Universities of Leeds, Edinburgh and Hamburg.
The scientists analysed the action plans developed by 114 countries in 2020-2021 and determined the impact they would have on addressing the issue of a build-up of AMR.
Out of the 114 countries, Ireland’s action plan ranked 18th, ahead of countries such as Italy, Belgium and Portugal, but behind big players such as the UK, Germany and the US.
Each country’s AMR action plans were scored out of 100, with Ireland receiving a mark of 69, while the UK, in second place, secured a mark of 83.
The work by Norway to combat AMR was ranked first in the list, with a score of 85, while Barbados had the lowest score at 28.
AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites stop responding to medicines designed to treat them. Excessive or inappropriate use of antibiotics in agriculture can contribute to the resistance build-up, both in farmed animals and the human population.
Encouraged by the World Health Organisation (WHO), countries, including Ireland, have developed national plans aimed at designing and rolling out policies and the associated tools to curb AMR.
The University of Leeds, Edinburgh and Hamburg research, peer reviewed and published by The Lancet Infectious Diseases, found that the AMR plans of most countries do not adequately factor in the monitoring and evaluation of the policies proposed.
As part of Ireland’s AMR national plan, the Department of Agriculture is changing the regulations around farmers’ access to antibiotics, with notable difference seen in merchants and co-ops.
Overall, the new study shows that the global response to AMR, and preparedness for the predicted challenges of AMR, require improvement in all locations around the world.
Lead author of the research Jay Patel of the University of Leeds said: “Our analysis showed that countries were highly focused on designing AMR policies and thinking about what tools would be required to implement those, but they generally did not consider how they would monitor and evaluate the impact of those efforts.
“This suggests that the international response may be inadequate to meet the scale and severity of AMR. This is particularly concerning in low- and middle-income countries, where action plan activities often lack sustainable funding – relying instead on funds from foreign donors and philanthropies.
“The available evidence also suggests that simply developing a national action plan may not necessarily mean a country is more prepared to respond to the threat of AMR.”
Patel and his team also found that the AMR training and professional education across human health, veterinary and agricultural sectors were insufficient in many countries, with several lacking a sustainable workforce strategy to deliver antimicrobial stewardship policies.