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Coronavirus cases surge as threat from antimicrobial resistance grows – WHO chief

The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press conference on the situation of the coronavirus (COVID-2019), in Geneva, Switzerland, on February 28, 2020. REUTERS-Denis Balibouse- File Photo

More cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the past four weeks than in the first six months of the pandemic, the head of the UN health agency told reporters on Friday, presenting a new report on the threat it poses. antimicrobial resistance.

“In Europe and North America, hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs) are filling or are full,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, at a regular news conference in Geneva. .

Sharing “more good news from vaccine trials, which continue to give us hope of ending the pandemic,” he maintained the need to continue “using the tools we have to interrupt chains of transmission and save lives.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the “intimate relationship between human beings, animals and the planet we share,” the WHO chief said.

“We cannot protect and promote human health without paying attention to the health of animals and the health of our environment.”

This is particularly relevant when considering antimicrobial resistance, according to Tedros, who called it “one of the greatest health threats of our time.”

Antimicrobial resistance threatens the effectiveness of antibiotics that are key to fighting HIV, malaria, neglected tropical diseases, and many other diseases.

And while antimicrobial resistance may not seem as urgent as a pandemic, it is not only as dangerous but threatens to “undo a century of medical progress and leave us defenseless against infections that can be easily treated today,” he warned.

In keeping with World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, which started on Wednesday, the WHO chief presented a new report, together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Organization for Animal Health, which examines international standards governing antimicrobial practices and identifies gaps in regulations governing their use in humans, animals, and plants.

The report, based on data from 136 countries, reveals that while nearly 90 percent of states have national action plans for antimicrobial resistance, only 20 percent have identified funds for their implementation.

“To help address that gap, together we have established a trust fund to help low- and middle-income countries develop a truly ‘One Health’ approach to addressing antimicrobial resistance,” said Tedros, thanking the Countries Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom for $ 13 million. in financing – the first round of support for eleven countries, and to generate greater global coherence in its use.

Against the backdrop that increased political commitment at the highest levels of government was “one of the most important ways” to achieve that goal, the WHO chief announced the One Health Global Leaders Group, which will bring together prominent leaders from government and the private sector and civil society organizations “to advocate for urgent action to combat the threat of antimicrobial resistance.”

It also engages stakeholders from agriculture, health, development, and other relevant areas “to maintain urgency, public support, political momentum, and visibility of the antimicrobial resistance challenge.”

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