Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – the development of ‘superbugs’ resistant to antibiotic treatment – has emerged as a major global threat to public health, killing hundreds of thousands of people annually. Health authorities predict that without concerted action millions more may soon succumb to infections which are successfully treated today but whose carriers are mutating to defy prevention and treatment. Yet worker health and safety has been almost completely ignored in the global fight against AMR.
Workers involved in raising and processing meat and poultry are routinely exposed to AMR pathogens due to the reckless overuse of antibiotics in the meat production chain and the contamination of farms and processing facilities. Once exposed, they in turn become potential vectors for transmission. Sustained efforts to limit the spread of AMR therefore requires that it be recognized as a workplace hazard and appropriate measures are implemented by governments and employers to minimize the impact on worker health. Unions representing the workers who are in the frontline of exposure must be involved in the development and implementation of these measures at every stage.
The IUF has produced a trade union briefing on antimicrobial resistance as a workplace issue – where it comes from, how it spreads, and what must be done to fight it. CLICK HERE to download Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) – A Workplace Hazard
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