Uzbekistan strengthens food safety capacity through laboratory training


A 4-day training session in laboratory techniques for combating foodborne diseases and related antimicrobial resistance (AMR) was recently organized in Tashkent. Representatives of the ministries of health and agriculture were among the participants.

The training was the initial component of a survey to get insight on the occurrence of AMR in the foodborne pathogenic bacteria salmonella and campylobacter to humans and poultry in Uzbekistan. The survey will help Uzbekistan strengthen its food safety capacity by launching surveillance and control of foodborne pathogens. WHO/Europe conducted the training  through its food safety programme and the Uzbekistan Country Office.

AMR has become an international public health problem and Uzbekistan is establishing tools to monitor and better understand the role of antimicrobial resistant bacteria in the local food chain.

Encouraging results from the training

The laboratory training sessions were held at the Research Institute of Epidemiology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Tashkent. They established diagnostics for campylobacter, and testing for AMR in salmonella and campylobacter. Currently, the occurrence of campylobacter in poultry and the frequency of campylobacteriosis are unknown.

The training demonstrated preliminary success in isolating campylobacter from both human and poultry for the first time in Uzbekistan, which is very encouraging for the continuation of the survey. This survey is partly funded by the WHO Advisory Group on Integrated Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance (AGISAR) and is part of a larger project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Uzbekistan.

Dr Jaap Wagenaar and Dr Koen Verstappen, two experts from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, led the training. Dr Wagenaar also delivered a seminar on the epidemiology of salmonella and campylobacter and related AMR. The seminar promoted awareness of food safety issues and highlighted the importance of intersectoral collaboration between health and the agricultural sectors for cost-efficient prevention and control of foodborne diseases.