Antimicrobial Resistance: Getting a New Impetus in Russia

Antimicrobial resistance - a global and multi-sectorial issue

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major global threat of increasing concern. It is widely acknowledged that AMR is mainly due to an inappropriate use of antimicrobial medicines in the public health, animal, food, agriculture and aquaculture sectors. Antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms can develop in our food chain and move between animals, humans and the environment. This makes AMR a problem that crosses sectoral boundaries.

Russia

The development of new antibiotics takes years and millions of dollars, while bacteria develop resistance to them in a matter of days and weeks. More than 70% of the antibiotics produced in the world are used primarily in animal husbandry: most often they are used in feeding animals to increase profitability.

Since 2010, through their Tripartite Alliance, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have been raising countries’ awareness on the issue of AMR.

The importance the Russian Federation attaches to international cooperation on combating AMR in food and agriculture is reflected in the concrete support it provides to FAO’s food and nutrition‑related initiatives. A Russian Federation-funded FAO project of nearly US$3.3 million was helping national authorities of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan address the threats posed by antimicrobial resistant microorganisms in agriculture and food systems.

During an international conference on “Food Safety and AMR” held in Moscow in December 2019 authorities representing animal health, public health and food safety sectors from project participating countries in Europe and Central Asia region exchanged experiences and best practices on how to reduce AMR, assess multifaceted food safety risks, enhance multilateral dialogue, expand international and interregional sectoral cooperation and promote partnerships between different stakeholders.

In addition, Russia is a member of the G20 Global Research and Development Center for AMR (Global R&D Hub).

Policies to tackle AMR in Russia

It is broadly recognized that the overarching principle for addressing AMR is within the framework of a One Health approach, which is the only effective tool as a response to global challenges for the health of people, animals, and the environment. The current Pandemic is a clear evidence of the fact that the relationship between humans – animals – the environment affects our lives.

Policies to tackle antimicrobial resistance have a high priority in Russia and approaches to deal with AMR are set out in the “Fundamentals of State Policy in the Field of Chemical and Biological Safety of the Russian Federation for the period to 2025”. In September 2017, the Russian government approved the “The Strategy for Preventing the Spread of Antimicrobial Resistance in the Russian Federation up to 2030”. The Strategy defines the state policy to prevent and limit the emergence and spread of resistance to antimicrobials, as well as chemical and biological agents in the Russian Federation. This strategy is based on the One Health approach and includes nine core chapters to combat the rise in AMR.

On 30 March 2019, the National Action Plan (2019-2024) for the implementation of the strategy was approved, more specifically to:

  • develop and strengthen effective surveillance, monitoring and regulatory frameworks on the preservation, use and sale of antimicrobial medicines for humans and animals, enforced according to the national context and consistent with international commitments;
  • increase the quality of specialists’ training in relevant industries on issues related to AMR;
  • intensify the development and introduction into agricultural practice of a national guidelines of vaccinations to prevent zoonoses and reduce the consumption of antimicrobial drugs in veterinary medicine;
  • increase and develop coordination among the human, animal, plant and environmental health sectors in order to develop and promote the concept of “One Health” through the creation of a single inter-sectoral committee;
  • improve public awareness on the use of antimicrobials (AMU) and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Increasing and broadening awareness and knowledge on AMR is needed to engage national representatives of human, agriculture and animal health sectors, and to encourage behavioral change.

The main result of the implementation of the Strategy in Russia is ensuring application of strict control on the use of antibacterial agents for prophylaxis and growth promotion. The introduction of strict control over the procedure for prescribing antibacterial drugs (prescription dispensing) will allow to limit use of antimicrobial drugs and more accurately assess the efficacy of their use.

Russian competent authorities in the field of AMR

The Ministry of Agriculture regulates the use of antibiotics in animal production, while the Ministry of Health regulates the use of antimicrobials in healthcare and is responsible for intersectional coordination of the implementation of the AMR Strategy as a whole.

Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosseklhoznadzor) and Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor) play an important role in monitoring the level of antibiotics residues in food products and antibiotic resistant bacteria. The Rospotrebnadzor Reference Center, which was created in 2017, is now undergoing procedures to obtain the status of the FAO Reference Center for Antibiotic Resistance.

Latest developments in the field of AMR in Russia

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Antibiotic resistance problems of major concern in Russia include the spread of multidrug resistant Extended-spectrum beta-lactamases-producing organisms and Meticilline-resistente Staphylococcus aureus. One of the causes of resistance problems is the lack of regulation of antibiotic use in agriculture.

Recently the RF government supported a bill to tighten control over the use of antibiotics in agriculture - in livestock and poultry farming. In the near future, the bill will be sent to the State Duma for consideration, if adopted, it will enter into force on September 1, 2022.

The document, if approved by the parliament and the president, will introduce a ban on adding antimicrobial drugs to feed and the sale of such feeds in the absence of a requirement or prescription. That will reduce the cases of their unjustified use and improve the quality and safety of finished products.

Registration of a prescription for a medicinal product for veterinary use will be possible in the federal state information system in the field of veterinary medicine. In addition, categories of persons who require a pharmaceutical license to add antimicrobials to feed during their production and sale will be established.

Rosselkhoznadzor positively assesses the development and approval of the bill by the government. The agency has repeatedly focused on the problems arising from the uncontrolled and intensive use of antibiotics in agriculture, as well as on the use of such drugs to stimulate growth and increase livestock productivity. Although there’s still some serious resistance on the part of the industry fearing that innovations would be excessive and would therefore, mean increase in time and financial costs, which will eventually affect consumers.

AMR in the Eurasian Economic Union

Russia also needs to tighten control over the use of antibiotics in agriculture at the level of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). EAEU member states expert review requirements and approaches differ.

EAEU countries now have the norm of mutual recognition of the results of drug registration. And this means that, despite all RF efforts, any antibiotic made in China or, for example, in Africa and registered, say, in Kazakhstan, can freely circulate in Russia.

The key priorities for the EAEU are to quickly increase the list of antibiotics, residual amounts of which in animal products get into human food, that need to be controlled and secondly, to create a unified electronic tracking system within the Eurasian community.

LAN Team Moscow

Sources: Agroinvestor, FAO, OIE