The rapid increase in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in microorganisms now challenges both public health and sustainable food production. A recent (2015) US Presidential report states that antibiotic resistance is developing at an alarming rate and that a decrease in human use will not be enough to deal with the problem. A recent report from the UK Government estimates that, if left to develop at present rates, AMR will kill 10 million people every year from 2050. The recent (Sep 2016) UN General Assembly agreed on a resolution about this major issue and for the first time, Heads of State committed to taking a broad, coordinated approach to address the root causes of AMR across multiple sectors, especially human health, animal health and agriculture. It is likely that some countries in the future will invoke WTO rules to block food imports from countries without sufficient AMR control. If the world wants to deal efficiently with the AMR issue, the basis has to be an understanding of the present situation, both in relation to the use of antimicrobials and the occurrence of resistance. To remove economic incentives for antimicrobial overuse, some governments have legislated to reduce veterinarian (and in some countries medical doctor) profit from antimicrobial sales. Likewise, non-therapeutic use of antimicrobials in animals for growth promotion has been banned in some (European) countries. Such interventions were in most cases based on surveillance systems documenting AMR in animal and human populations as well as antimicrobial use in both domains. NTU is involved in developing an interesting opportunity to investigate the level of AMR in bacteria from around the globe using Next Generation DNA Sequencing (NGS). The case is made for a global database of microbial genomes.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Jorgen Schlundt is the Michael Fam Chair Professor in Food Science and Technology at the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at NTU. He holds a Veterinary Degree and a PhD in veterinary microbiology from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University in Denmark. He has worked on food and environmental safety issues at national and international levels for over 30 years. From 2002 to 2010, he was the Director of Food Safety and Zoonoses at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva. At WHO he worked on the development of food safety risk analysis principles, the creation of the Advisory Group on Integrated Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance (AGISAR), and the launch of the global burden of foodborne disease initiative. In recent years, he has participated in the conceptual development of the One Health paradigm and initiated a novel international effort to develop and use an epidemiological database for global identification of microorganisms.