Intervention by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Second Day of the Inaugural Meeting of the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance on 27 January 2021
1 AMR is a global health and development threat. It requires all of us to take urgent multisectoral action using a One Health approach to address this global challenge. In this connection, I am happy to be part of this Global Leaders Group to advocate for practical, science-based, and coordinated global action. I believe our work will help accelerate efforts to combat the threat of AMR across the human, animal and plant health, and environment sectors.
2 I thank the Tripartite organizations of the WHO, FAO and OIE for organizing this meeting. The 5 objectives that the secretariat has drawn out are helpful to guide the Group's work and advance our AMR agenda.
3 Let me begin by first saying that it is crucial that our work be based on science and take an evidence-based approach. To make a difference, the outputs of our group must push the envelope of current global action. At the same time, to avoid being a white elephant, our recommendations must also be practical and sustainable, bearing in mind national contexts. We must take careful consideration of the resources needed and the various trade-offs that necessarily accompany any action taken to address AMR. It is crucial that we find the right balance and arrive at the most effective way forward to address the threat of AMR. Against this backdrop, let me highlight a few key areas where we might want to focus our attention to complement the 5 objectives in our work plan.
4 Firstly, to collectively advocate for appropriate waste disposal, sanitation and water treatment in all countries , so as to minimize the release of antimicrobial organisms and residues in the environment, and for support of work by countries and international organisations working towards this goal. Recent studies found many rivers around the world contaminated with antibiotic residues. This may in turn contaminate food sources dependent on, or connected to, river waters.
5 Secondly, to adopt an open and blameless reporting of national AMR and antimicrobial use data to improve accountability. Sharing of country data to global surveillance systems is important to understand the global situation, and for countries to benchmark themselves. However, we recognise that countries may hesitate to share data out of concern of being shown in a negative light, or face trade barriers. It is important that we emphasise that surveillance data should not be used to impose barriers on reporting countries.
6 Beyond these actions, it is important that countries undertake adequate surveillance and risk assessments. The Group may wish to task international organisations to work with countries or regional entities to initiate this development. Detection of AMR through surveillance and risk assessments can enable a timely and appropriate response to be mounted at both country- and global-level. The contamination of the environment with AMR bacteria is an increasing concern; however, there is currently no consistent methodology to monitor the levels of AMR in various natural environments and in sewage.
This is an area of work that the Group can advocate for at 3 levels:
(a) There is a need to further develop and implement international guidelines, to harmonise laboratory methodology, data collection, analysis, and reporting approach across the different sectors, especially in the food, aquaculture and environmental sectors.
(b) It will be important to build and strengthen the technical capabilities of countries to implement these international guidelines.
(c) There is also merit in promoting active sharing of relevant AMR surveillance and risk assessment data to promote collaboration to support efforts to tackle AMR.
7 To make progress in these areas, it is also crucial to take a multilateral approach when addressing AMR. Such multilateral frameworks are particularly important for small states such as Singapore, to maintain urgency, political momentum and visibility of the AMR challenge at the international level, and to continue to put AMR high on the global stage. We were happy to have joined the collective political declaration on combatting AMR at the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2016, and are supportive of the 'One Health' approach, including the Tripartite collaboration between WHO, OIE and FAO and other UN agencies. Moving forward, we urge the Tripartite Plus organizations to continue to put a key focus on AMR, engage relevant stakeholders, and help support countries in their efforts to address AMR. For example, at CODEX, countries have been negotiating guidelines on antimicrobial use is important to speed up our efforts to reach an early conclusion of the Code of Practice to Minimize and Contain AMR so that it can be adopted and serve as guidance for stakeholders in their efforts to combat AMR.
8 At the regional level, countries are also making efforts to address AMR. For example, Singapore is the Lead Country for coordinating AMR efforts in the livestock and aquaculture sectors in ASEAN and has endeavored to achieve this through various capability building programmes as well as consultation workshops to formulate 5-year regional plans of action on AMR. We have also worked with FAO on capability building programmes to strengthen AMR efforts in the region and organized a FAO-OIECoordination Meeting of leading AMR institutions in Asia and the Pacific.Together, all these regional efforts can add up and mutually reinforce efforts undertaken at the international and national levels.
9 Finally, as we seek to strengthen our efforts to combat AMR, we also need to regularly take stock to ensure that we are on the right track. This can be done by monitoring progress we have made, identifying potential gaps, highlighting new issues that warrant further attention, as well as sharing good practices and experiences with each other, based on a universal standard and definition for reporting to provide a more accurate assessment on gaps globally.
10 Singapore stands in support of the international community on combating AMR and I look forward to making contribution through the Global Leaders Group.