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21st October 2021

Scottish One Health AMR Register (SOHAR)

SOHAR report front cover

Living within a viral pandemic has brought home the importance of our relationship with microbes. Yet we are in the midst of another microbial risk that threatens to have a much larger impact on our lives. Microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi or protists) that cause disease in humans, animals or plants are normally treated with antimicrobial drugs to control their numbers. Drug use has become routine since Alexander Fleming’s famous discovery of penicillin, in public health, veterinary practice and crop protection. Since all microbes are living entities, they adapt and evolve, generating resistance to the drugs, to overcome their function. The unintended consequence from misuse or dissemination of the pharmaceuticals has led to widespread resistance, even in microbes that were previously benign. Antimicrobial resistant (AMR) microbes are transmitted through the same pathways as pathogenic (harmful) microbes, whether in indoor or outdoor environments. Combined with the low level of development of novel drugs to treat AMR microbes, this has left us in a critical state.

To address this problem, the World Health Organisation (WHO) developed a coordinated global response, enabling countries to develop National Action Plans to combat AMR. The action plans are built on five principles to improve awareness and understanding of the problem, strengthen the scientific evidence-base, reduce the incidence of human infections with AMR microbes, optimise pharmaceutical use in human and animal health, and invest in new diagnostics, vaccines and interventions. To understand how the action plans are addressed nationally, it is necessary to record the breadth and scope of relevant activities. Therefore, this project aimed to determine activities relating to AMR research associated with Scotland that had taken place in the past five years, and to relate them to the UK National Action Plan (2019-2024). It generated a register of activities: the Scottish One Health AMR register (SOHAR).

Outcomes: The project identified a large number of AMR-related activities, principally related to animal and human health. The lowest representation related to transmission from food or wildlife, with representation for transmission from the environment and water mid-range. A proportion of activities related to the social sciences. Mapping the activities to the UK action plan revealed a strength for Scottish-associated research related to AMR in animals, for laboratory capacity and surveillance of AMR in animals and understanding AMR spread between humans, animals and the environment. Another strong area was in lowering the burden of human infection, by turning research into practice for effective infection prevention and control (IPC). Areas with limited representation were in the translational pipeline for end-user application, although this could reflect how the data was collected. Overall, the register has the potential to deliver multiple impacts allowing stakeholders and organisations to identify the strengths, or areas that need to be addressed in more detail. The report recommends continuance of the register and accessibility in the public domain.