Intervention by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the First Day of the Inaugural Meeting of the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance on 26 January 2021
1 Warm greetings from Singapore. It gives me great pleasure to join you all at the inaugural meeting of the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance. My name is Grace Fu, and I am Singapore's Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, overseeing the issues of sustainability, food security and environmental public health.
2 AMR is a multi-sectoral problem, exacerbated by the extensive use of antimicrobials in modern medicine and agriculture. It is also a global issue, as microbes are transmitted through the food supply chain, human travel, and the environment. The extreme consequence of AMR, where we no longer have effective antibiotics to treat infections, will bring us to an era where simple infections may kill. Even today, there exist infections that already do not respond to many treatment options. In addition, climate change may escalate evolution of micro-organisms and their pathogenicity, resulting in increased use of antimicrobials leading to antimicrobial resistance. We must therefore take action now. The coordination of efforts between sectors, and across international boundaries will undoubtedly require a strong will, and I am glad we are all here today to support this cause.
3 Singapore recognises the importance of AMR. To strengthen our efforts in addressing AMR, the health, animal, food and environment agencies in Singapore came together in 2017 to develop Singapore's National Strategic Action Plan to combat AMR. The Plan consolidates the whole-of-government approach required to combat AMR and prioritises key areas of action in the different sectors. We have set up an AMR Coordinating Office to oversee the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the National Strategic Action Plan, and coordinate AMR efforts across the human, environment, food and animal sectors.
4 The priority areas that Singapore has identified are:
a) Education , where a National One Health strategy to improve national awareness and knowledge is being developed, that will reinforce good practices among industry and stakeholders
b) Surveillance and Risk Assessment , which involves joint reporting of surveillance across sectors and risk assessment to guide policies
c) Research , where there is coordinated and dedicated funding for cross-sector research in AMR transmission pathways; Knowledge, attitudes, practices; and Socioeconomic impacts
d) Prevention and Control of Infection , which seeks to increase vaccination uptake, enhance infection prevention & control in human and animal sectors; and enhance outbreak response, and
e) Optimisation of Antimicrobial Use , which aims to strengthen appropriate use across sectors.
5 In human health , we have been monitoring levels of AMR bacteria and antibiotic use in public hospitals since 2011, and private hospitals since 2018. Antimicrobial stewardship programmes have been instituted in public hospitals to promote appropriate use, and infection control programmes are mandatory in all hospitals.
6 In food and food producing animals , we are monitoring AMR bacteria in the food chain, covering food imports, local production, food at retail, and gathering data to carry out risk assessments. Our farms are banned from using certain drugs and antimicrobials. The farms must ensure proper recordkeeping of drug usage, seek veterinary advice before treatment and observe applicable withdrawal periods for any drug used.
7 Furthermore, in animals and the environment , we are monitoring AMR bacteria in pets and wildlife, and conducting surveillance studies of AMR in environmental waters to determine levels and risks to public health.
8 In Southeast Asia, the ten Member States of ASEAN have come together to collectively recognise AMR as a threat to the region. We recently endorsed the 'ASEAN Strategic Plan to combat AMR through a One Health approach', which involves the health, animal, food and environment sectors in ASEAN. Singapore is taking the lead on AMR matters in the ASEAN food and agriculture sector, where we have helped develop the ASEAN Guidelines on Prudent Use of Antimicrobials in Livestock to assist ASEAN Member States to develop national guidelines. Singapore is now assisting to develop the ASEAN Guidelines for Prudent Use of Antimicrobials in Aquaculture; organizing a Workshop on Risk Analysis for AMR arising from use of antimicrobial agents in aquaculture, as well as assisting ASEAN to develop a 5-year Regional Plan of Action on AMR in Aquaculture.
9 I believe that efforts to combat the threat of AMR across the human, animal and plant health, and environment sectors need to be better coordinated, prioritised and strengthened. The formation of this Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance is therefore timely, and I am happy to be a part of this Group.
10 Thank you, and I look forward to a fruitful discussion.