Sri Lanka launches National Strategic Plan for Combating Antimicrobial Resistance

Sri Lanka launched its National Strategic Plan for Combating Antimicrobial Resistance in the presence of the Hon. Dr Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine and Hon. Ammer Ali Seyed Mohammad Sihabdeen, State Minister, Rural Economy. Multiple stakeholders working in human health, animal health, agriculture and fisheries sectors in Sri Lanka came together to develop the national strategic plan aimed at addressing the very real and urgent threat posed by Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). Sri Lanka’s National Strategic Plan for Combating AMR presents an integrated approach to tackle the root causes of AMR in a comprehensive and strategic way.

Antibiotics are invaluable in treating infectious diseases; they have helped save millions of lives and have made many medical developments possible. Antibiotics are also increasingly used in the agriculture sector to prevent diseases among animals and as growth promoters. However, systematic overuse and misuse of antibiotics for human health and food production has resulted in greater resistance to these antibiotics. Therefore, cross-sector collaboration across human health, animal health, agriculture and fisheries sectors is imperative to curb the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

“The health impact of AMR would pose a major challenge to a developing country such as Sri Lanka. Presently, 13% of the Government’s health budget is spent on antimicrobial medicines. Resistant infections will mean further increased costs and would be detrimental towards providing cost effective health care,” highlighted Hon. Dr Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine. The growing trend of antibiotic resistant infections and the indiscriminate use of antibiotics are pressing challenges for the country.

WHO Sri Lanka convened a national multisectoral coordination group on AMR, including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Rural Economy and Sri Lanka College of Microbiologists to ensure an integrated and multipronged approach to tackling AMR.

The National Strategic Plan for Combating AMR draws on the strategies outlined in the WHO Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance. The national plan is based on the ‘one health concept’ to ensure that all related dimensions of AMR, including human health, animal health, aquatic health and production, crop production and food safety, were all comprehensively addressed. The plan outlines a national road map with specific objectives and clear implementation milestones to combat AMR.

“Sri Lanka can go with its head held high to the World Health Assembly this year as it has taken action on AMR, however, our work does not stop now. WHO stands behind the Government as it takes the next steps in implementing the action plan across the related sectors,” highlighted Dr Belinda Loring, Medical Officer, WHO at the launch of the national strategic plan.

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