The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) facilitated two significant meetings for the Indian Network for Fishery and Animal Antimicrobial Resistance (INFAAR) in Bhubaneswar.
On 22 December 2023, the tenth INFAAR Advisory Board meeting, chaired by Deputy Director General (DDG) of the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), Dr JK Jena, reviewed data generated by the INFAAR network and provided oversight for planned activities in 2024. With an attendance of 12 senior officials, the meeting identified specific tasks for Principal Investigators (PIs) and proposed solutions for a strategic technical framework. The Advisory Board also recommended enhancing the capacity of each PI in terms of human resources and laboratory capabilities to strengthen their ability, in carrying out mandated Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) surveillance activities for INFAAR. Additionally, there was a strong emphasis on the importance of conducting genomic AMR surveillance.
On 23 December 2023, the Sixth Annual Review meeting was organized to address the critical issues faced by the INFAAR network in the surveillance of AMR. The meeting was chaired by the Deputy Director General of the Indian Council of Agriculture Research Dr JK Jena. All Principal PIs from 21 centres of INFAAR participated, along with specialists from USAID, ICMR and FAO.
Under the strategic framework of AMR mitigation, the animal health component is undergoing significant revision. In view of this, a primary emphasis was placed on the collection of pan-India data on AMR from all states, and the strengthening of the INFAAR network, through the inclusion of additional centers for surveillance and advocacy. The estimated budget and human resource requirements for data collection and analysis were also discussed.
The estimation of Antimicrobial Usage (AMU) poses a considerable challenge in India, and the meeting highlighted the importance of a validated tool or protocol for accurate AMU estimation. Genomic surveillance for AMR was discussed, where FAO emphasized its significance in animal health and fisheries. The INFAAR centers were also requested to take initiatives on conducting genomic surveillance and FAO agreed to provide support to four INFAAR centers to undergo hands-on training at the Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre, Gandhinagar.
FAO in India actively provides technical assistance to foster a comprehensive understanding of AMR/AMU and genomic surveillance and is aiming to reduce the drivers of AMR. FAO will also continue to support INFAAR activities through various projects and work to strengthen India’s National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (NAP AMR).