New UN Report: Bracing for Superbugs

The report Bracing for Superbugs: Strengthening environmental action in the One Health response to antimicrobial resistance provides evidence that the environment plays a key role in the development, transmission and spread of AMR.  Prevention is at the core of the action and the environment is a key part of the solution. 

The spotlight report will be launched at the 6th meeting of the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance in Barbados, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The online launch is set for Tuesday, 7 February 2023; 10:30 am AST/9:30 am EST/5:30 pm EAT/3:30 pm CET. Details are still being tweaked but you can check for updates here.  

The report’s lead authors include Dr Teresa Coque, Prof. David Graham, Dr Amy Pruden, Dr Anthony So, Dr Ed Topp, and the amazing team at the UN Environmental Programme.  

The UN establishes the Quadripartite Technical Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and Antimicrobial Use (AMU) Integrated Surveillance

Prof. David Graham was just appointed to the United Nations Quadripartite Technical Group on Antimicrobial Resistance and Use Integrated Surveillance (QTG-AIS) established by the Quadripartite Joint Secretariat on AMR. QTG-AIS was formed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, United Nations Environment Programme, World Health Organization, and the World Organisation for Animal Health, and has been created to provide advice and guidance on the development of global, regional and country-level integrated surveillance systems for AMR and AMU. A special goal is to establish effective surveillance capacities across all resource settings.

QTG-AIS is mandated to provide:

  • advice to the Quadripartite on needs, scope, and format on integrated surveillance; how it should be updated to reflect emerging evidence and experience; and advocate for covering identified gaps;
  • reviews and refine current definition of integrated surveillance and agree on priority needs in different contexts;
  • technical advice to the Quadripartite on issues emerging from regional- and country-level work on AMR/AMU integrated surveillance;
  • strategic advice and input to the Global Leaders Group on AMR and AMU integrated surveillance; and
  • technical support/assistance via the Quadripartite to build country- and regional-level integrated AMR/AMU surveillance capabilities.

The QTG-AIS comprises 27 experts with AMR and AMU surveillance experience, including Prof Graham. See the Press Release here for the list of named individuals. Update: See a more developed summary of QTG-AIS here.

Antimicrobial Resistance in the Environment Webinar Series

The Quadripartite, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), is hosting the Antimicrobial Resistance in the Environment Webinar Series, which covers the following topics

  • Webinar 1: Understanding the basics of environmental AMR for national action – 20 June 2022
  • Webinar 2: Sources, drivers and impacts on AMR in the environment – 12 September 2022
  • Webinar 3: Technical solutions for prevention and control of AMR in the environment – 27 October 2022
  • Webinar 4: Governance approaches for prevention and control of AMR in the environment – 1 December 2022

Professor Graham is speaking at Webinar 3: Technical solutions for the prevention and control of AMR in the environment. His talk start at 1:37:00. See the full webinar series here.

Heavy metal pollution can increase antibiotic resistance in rivers

We want to publicise a recent publication in the journal Environmental Pollution on research by Newcastle University and the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi that quantified antibiotic and metal resistance in sediments from the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers in India and streams in the River Tyne catchment. The results show heavy metals, which are high in the River Tyne catchment due to historic mining and industrial activity, relate to antibiotic resistance levels in the river. The same was seen in the Indian rivers, especially in areas of industrial activity. See the Newcastle University Press Release on this work here.

Professor Graham introduced the environmental dimensions of antibiotic resistance at the Annual Meeting of the Members of the European Parliament (MEP) Interest Group on AMR on 17 May 2022.

One Water One Health

A special webinar is being held on March 24 at the 9th World Water Forum called “One Water One Health“. This event is being co-hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and examines “AMR in the Environment” from a One Health perspective, including transmission and spread in water systems.

“This session fosters awareness and multistakeholder dialogue that brings together the tripartite organisations namely the UN FAO, WHO, OIE, and UNEP with the government, the private sector, and experts from environment, health, and WASH sectors. The event presents an opportunity to understand the multitude of water and health linkages and antimicrobial resistance from a water environment perspective, specifically the scope of the problem, sources, drivers, transmissions mechanisms, and the implications to global water security and mitigation actions.”

The webinar is 08:00 to 09:00 GMT on Thursday, 24 March 2022. Registration here.

During the webinar, our own Prof David Graham is speaking about the role of the wider environment on antimicrobial resistance spread. Other contributors include Sasha Koo-Oshima (Land and Water Division, FAO); Sunita Narain (Centre for Science and Environment, Chair of the Global Leaders Group Environment Group); Joakim Larsson (University of Gothenburg, Sweden); Kate Medlicott (World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland); Marion Savill (Affordable Water Limited and Water, NZ Chapter of International Water Association (IWA), & IWA ASPIRE, New Zealand); Nigel French (Massey University & New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre); Omar El-Hassan (FAO) & Robert Bos (FAO). 

Sanitation’s role in reducing the spread of AMR

Read the interview that David Graham gave Health Europa on the vital role of sanitation in reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistance by click here. Questions covered include:

  • How does a lack of access to clean water and sanitation increase the spread of AMR?
  • Can you explain how wastewater has been used as a tool to guide healthcare decisions during the pandemic?
  • What are the key challenges facing the healthcare sector in preventing the spread of AMR infection?
  • You and your colleagues have successfully trialled two new qPCR assays to detect transmissible AMR. Can you outline your DNA-based testing method and explain the benefits of this?
  • What steps should be taken at a policy level to avoid the worst-case scenario of 10 million annual deaths by 2050?

Public Webinar: Environmental Dimension of AMR under the One Health Agenda

Join the public webinar Environmental Dimension of AMR under the One Health Agenda in celebration of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week on Friday, 19 November 2021 from 8:00 to 11:00 GMT time via KouShare by clicking here.

This event is organized by the United Nations Environment Programme; the Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences; the Alliance of International Science Organizations; and the Center for Environmental Engineering Research, The University of Hong Kong. The moderators are Prof. Yong-Guan Zhu and Prof. David Graham, with opening remarks by Prof. Jian Lui and Prof. Jinghua Coa and invited talks from Prof. Tong Zhang, Prof. Sabiha Essack, Dr. Rajeshwari Sinha, Prof. Ewa Korzeniewska, Dr. Chanwit Tribuddharat, and Dr. Mui-Choo Jong.

Download the programme here; please note the programme times are given in China Standard Time, which is 8 hours ahead of GMT, so adjust for your viewing location.

Will you ‘Go Blue’?

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) is 18 to 24 November. Celebrated annually, WAAW aims to increase awareness of global antimicrobial resistance and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers, and policymakers to avoid the further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections. The 2021 WAAW theme is ‘spread awareness, stop resistance’.

This year’s campaign encourages participants to spread awareness about what AMR is, share stories about its consequences, and demonstrate how the actions of individuals, families, professionals, and communities affect the spread of AMR. Find campaign materials and resources here, including the AMR and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Technical Brief that David Graham helped coauthor. Also checkout the Campaign Guidance here. Also, take a minute to share a comment with us on how you are ‘Going Blue’.

New Group Member: Rebeca Pallarés Vega

We are very happy to welcome Rebeca Pallarés Vega (Palencia, Spain) who has joined the GrahAM research group as a Research Assistant to study the dynamics of plasmid transfer in Indian rivers on our AMRflows project. Rebeca studied a BSc in Biology at the University of Salamanca (Spain) and then to pursued an MSc in Advances and Research in Microbiology at the University of Granada (Spain). During her MSc, Rebeca did an internship in 2015 at the water research centre, Wetsus, in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. This was when she became acquainted with antimicrobial resistance, and during her nine-month project, she studied resistant genetic profiles of bacteria isolated from hospital wastewater.

After completing her internship, Rebeca was granted a PhD position at TU Delft and Wetsus in collaboration with industrial stakeholders and water authorities. During her PhD, Rebeca focused on evaluating the presence and removal of antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) in wastewater and biosolids. Her main goal was to identify the role of wastewater system design, operational parameters, and abiotic factors (i.e., rainfall) on ARG removal dynamics. Rebeca also studied different conditions that might influence the spread of ARGs through the conjugal transfer of plasmids using in vitro and in situ experimental set-ups at the University of Copenhagen with the group of Professor Søren Sørensen.

In 2020, Rebeca joined the EU2020 project REPARES on behalf of Wetsus. There, she worked in method standardization and transfer across the consortium partners. We are very happy for Rebeca to join our group because her background fits perfectly into AMRflows, but our other work, such as wastewater-based epidemiology.