Antimicrobial resistance, also known as antibiotic resistance, is the "ability of microorganism (like bacteria, viruses, and some parasites) to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antivirals, and antimalarials) from working against it. As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist, and may spread to others" (World Health Organization, 2019).
Why should sanitarians, environmental health specialist, and other professionals working in the environmental health field be concerned about antimicrobial resistance? Antimicrobial resistance has the potential to affect the health of all people in our communities. Last September, the U.S. government launched the Antimicrobial Resistance Challenge with the United Nations General Assembly. The Antimicrobial Resistance Challenge is a way for governments worldwide, including state and local governments, private industries, and nongovernmental organizations, to make formal commitments that further the progress against antimicrobial resistance. It encourages a One Health approach (www. onehealthinitiative.com), which recognizes that the health of people in our communities is connected to the health of animals and the environment. You can find more on social media using #GlobalAMRChallenge.
There are five commitment areas in the Antimicrobial Resistance Challenge.
Tracking and data: Share data and improve data collection.
Infection prevention and control: Reduce the spread of resistant pathogens.
Antibiotic use: Improve appropriate antibiotic use, including ensuring access to these drugs.
Environment and sanitation: Decrease antibiotics and resistance in the environment, including improving sanitation.
Vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics: Invest in development and improved access.
I would say environmental health is and should be involved in areas 1, 2, and 4.
Several private companies with environmental health staff are working to use risk-based approaches to combat antimicrobial resistance through hygiene and sanitation program implementation. The Connecticut Department of Public Health, with its laboratory staff, epidemiologists, and environmental health specialists, is committed to expanding capacity within Connecticut to detect, prevent, and respond to antimicrobial resistance.
In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UK Science and Innovation Network, and Wellcome Trust released a report highlighting the presence of resistant...