In a move to safeguard the lives of hundreds of thousands of people every year, the ministries of Health; Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Environment have launched a joint multi-sectoral action plan to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Despite much progress, AMR continues to pose a threat to Cambodia’s population and development, the action plan states.
The UN World Health Organisation describes AMR as the ability of micro-organisms, such as bacteria, viruses and some parasites, to stop antimicrobials – including antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials – from working against them.
As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, while infections persist and may spread to others.
If AMR is not prevented, more than 700,000 people could die every year, according to a document prepared by the three ministries in May last year.
“As the relevant ministries representing the Cambodian government, we are committed to implementing this comprehensive joint approach, with continuous cooperation, towards the prevention of AMR, which has resulted from the improper use of antimicrobial medicines in the medical, food and agricultural sectors,” Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng said.
The action plan – to run from this year to 2023 and include seven priority strategies to fight AMR in Cambodia – was launched on Monday in Phnom Penh by officials from the three ministries.
“The action plan will take a better approach than ever, promoting the participation of players from the medical, livestock, agricultural, food, finance and environment sectors, as well as general consumers,” said a press release on the launch of the plan.
A recent report by the World Bank and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation said if no solution was found to AMR, low-income countries could lose more than five per cent of gross domestic product due to expenses in healthcare and losses in agricultural production.
The same report said around 28 million people could fall into poverty, with spending on healthcare throughout the world increasing from $300 billion to $1 trillion a year by 2030.
The Facebook page of the Ministry of Health’s Communicable Disease Control (CDC) department said the world is facing resistance to antimicrobial medicine.
This could lead to difficulty in recovering from diseases, treatment becoming increasingly expensive and even losing life in serious cases.
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries secretary of state Hor Malin said measures to combat AMR not only covered the health sector, but also agriculture and the environment.
“These measures, backed by evidence and data, are steps towards an improved joint effort against AMR,” she said.
Ministry of Environment undersecretary of state Tea Chub said that bad practices in animal husbandry, as well as poor agricultural hygiene and waste management, had contributed to the spread of drug-resistant bacteria in the food production chain and the environment.
“Tackling AMR requires the participation and contributions of other sectors, including the Ministry of Environment,” he said.
CDC director Ly Sovann could not be reached for comment by press time.