Patrick Dehaumont, Tristan Reynaud / Sipa Press

The annual interministerial symposium between the French ministries of Agriculture and Food, Health, the Environment, and Research and Higher Education took place November 14. This year’s theme was the research and innovation issues and needs surrounding the fight against antimicrobial resistance, a major public health challenge.

Resistance to antibiotics is a global public health problem that could lead to ten million deaths per year across the planet by 2050 if nothing is done. Several tools, particularly research and development, must be strengthened to limit this phenomenon. The development of new innovative products and technologies could help contribute to limiting it.

During the symposium, Patrick Dehaumont, the Director General for Food (roughly, equivalent to an undersecretary on food safety, animal and plant health), emphasized the need for research and innovation, particularly in the field of animal husbandry. He indicated that all actors in the agricultural, research and educational sectors are very much mobilized on these themes. Biosecurity measures and the evolution of animal husbandry practices represent important tools in the prevention of disease and thus in reducing the use of antibiotics. They are fully part of the perspective in the agro-ecological transition and of a sustainable agricultural model, which unites positive health, economic and environmental outcomes. He also reminded those gathered of the excellent results of the first Ecoantibio plan (2012-2016) to reduce the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine, which largely exceeded its target goals.

The symposium was also the opportunity to unveil and discuss issues related to the four large priorities of the research program being finalized by various French agencies:

  • the emergence, transmission and dissemination of resistance to antibiotics;
  • developing innovative therapeutic and preventive strategies;
  • technological innovation;
  • and improving antibiotic uses, control programs, setting up systems, and understanding of social and economic issues.

The fight against antimicrobial resistance must take place in a multidisciplinary manner, and must move passed the various borders that close off different territories and disciplines from one another.

The issues of this plan are indeed to restructure the research networks and observatories in order to strengthen efforts and ensure coordination in research between the sector of human, animal and environmental health under the leadership of a multidisciplinary strategic council. The ambition is also to maintain France’s role as a global leader in innovation in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.