PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has taken the initiative of formulating an Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Surveillance Plan to provide a framework for the implementation of required interventions for AMR containment in the animal health sector of the province. “The AMR Surveillance plan is in line with the National Surveillance Strategy for Antimicrobial Resistance in healthy food animals developed by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research”, informs Dr. Syed Asad Ali Shah, Epidemiologist and AMR focal person for Animal Health Livestock and Dairy Development Department, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The plan has been formulated by the KP government with the support of Fleming Fund Country Grand Pakistan, a UK-based aid program supporting up to 24 countries across Africa and Asia to tackle antimicrobial resistance. Talking to APP, Dr. Syed Asad Ali Shah said that the rapid emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance in humans, animals, and the environment was becoming a multifaceted challenge that impacts global public health and food security and threatens the attainment of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The irrational use of antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine is believed as the driving force for escalating drug resistance at an extremely high rate, he explained and emphasized the need for collaborative efforts to slow down the pace of the spread of antimicrobial resistance in the animal population. Moreover, Asad continued, monitoring AMR trends in food animals was essential to understanding the epidemiology of the drug-resistant bacteria which was crucial for tackling AMB both in animal and human populations. The epidemiologist said that serious consequences of AMR were anticipated in the coming decades including a significant decline in global export, an increase in health care costs, and a decrease in livestock production. The issue of increasing antimicrobial resistance had gained recognition at all levels and required adopting a multisectoral and holistic One Health approach of involving all the relevant departments in prevention programs through data sharing, he suggested. During the last few years, a higher prevalence of antibiotic resistance was observed in Pakistan, where studies revealed that most of the pathogens were showing high resistance to the commonly used antibiotics. Dr. Asad informed that after the formulation of a plan, AMR diagnostic work in the livestock sector of KP was being conducted on a limited scale. There are a few laboratories including Provincial Disease Investigation Laboratory (DIL), Peshawar and Poultry Research Institute (PRI), and Jabba Manshera, which are engaged in Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing in the animal health sector in the province. There are also twenty-five district diagnostic laboratories in the province, which are providing basic diagnostic facilities, with close linkages with DIL Peshawar, and can serve as the specimen collection center for AMR. Similarly, the Livestock and Dairy Development Department has established seven milk quality testing labs at divisional headquarters which can be strengthened for testing antibiotic residues and utilized for supporting AMR surveillance and monitoring. “AMR is one of the major health crises with an estimation of killing 700,000 people a year if left unchecked and the decision taken by KP government for formulating a plan in this regard is very timely in regard with ensuring better health of human and animals”, Dr. Asad remarked.