NEW YORK, MARCH 17 – Italian Marco Marzano de Marinis, Secretary-General of the World Farmers Organization, has been appointed by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres as part of the newly established ad hoc Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance.
Guterres announced on Friday the official establishment of the group, which will be co-chaired by Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed and World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan.
“As we enter the era of sustainable development, I would like to emphasize that antimicrobial resistance really does pose a formidable threat to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly in our developing countries,” Ms. Mohammed told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York.
Antimicrobial resistance happens when microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites) change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs – antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintics. Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs.” As a result, says WHO, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others.
Ms. Mohammed said the creation of the UN joint agency group to combat AMR and advise on the global effort, is a sign of how seriously UN Member States were taking the threat. Last September, Member States adopted the Political Declaration of the High-Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance that contained a request for the UN Secretary-General to establish such a body.
The group will be comprised of high level representatives of relevant UN agencies, other international organizations, and individual experts across different sectors, including animal health, agriculture, environment, and others. There is strong gender parity among the expert members with 8 female and 7 male representatives from different regions of the world, a UN Spokesperson stressed.
The objective of the Group will be to provide practical guidance for approaches needed to ensure sustained effective global action to address antimicrobial resistance, including options to improve coordination, taking into account the Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance.
It is anticipated that the group will convene its first meeting within the next few weeks. It will produce a report to the Secretary-General for the 73rdsession of General Assembly.
WFO, of which Marzano de Marinis is Secretary General, was set up in 2011 by 28 farm groups to give farmers a voice at the United Nations and other international bodies as a successor to the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, a post-war group based in Paris that ceased operations. WFO set up its offices in Rome where the U.N. food agencies — the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFO), and the International Federation for Agricultural Development (IFAD) — are located.
Its 28 founding members included the National Farmers Union in the United States, the National Farmers Union in the United Kingdom, the French farm group known by the acronym FNSEA and Ja Zenchu, the Japanese Central Union of Agricultural Cooperative, but it has expanded to include farm groups in developed and developing countries.
At the present time, Marzano de Marinis said, WFO has become the farmers’ “reference organization” in the following international bodies:
- United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and its post-2015 development goals.
- United National Disaster Risk Reduction global political discussion.
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
- United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP).
- Global Alliance on Climate Smart Agriculture.
WFO also represents farmers before other agencies such as the World Trade Organization and the World Bank, he said.
Besides Mr Marzano de Martinis, the new ad hoc UN group is composed by: Dr Hanan Balkhy, Executive Director, Infection Prevention & Control, Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs, Saudi Arabia; Dr Jarbas Barbosa da Silva, President, National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA), Brazil; Professor Otto Cars, Senior Professor, Infectious Diseases, Senior Adviser – ReAct, Uppsala University, Sweden; Professor Junshi Chen, Senior Research Professor, China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment; Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, United Kingdom; Dr Lyalya Gabbasova, Assistant to the Minister of Health for AMR issues, TB, HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, Ministry of Health, Russian Federation; Ms Martha Gyansa-Lutterod, Director of Pharmaceutical Services, Ministry of Health, Ghana; Ms Jaana Husu-Kallio, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Finland; Mr Martin Khor, Executive Director, South Centre, Switzerland; Dr Gérard Moulin, Deputy Director, National Agency for Veterinary Medicinal Products (ANMV), and Research Director, French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (Anses), France; Dr Donald Prater, Acting Assistant Commissioner for Food Safety Integration, Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine, United States Food and Drug Administration, United States of America; Professor Susana Ramirez Hita, Professor, Collective Health, Environment and Society, University Andina Simon Bolivar, Ecuador; Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Director-General, Indian Council of Medical Research, India; and Dr Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant Minister for Global Health and Health Industry Strategy, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan. Representatives of other UN and international agencies such as FAO, UNEP, OECD and UNICEF will be confirmed at a later date. (@alebal)