Worldwide scholars gathered at HKU for the 5th International Symposium on Environmental Dimension of Antibiotic Resistance (EDAR)
Antibiotic resistance (AMR) is an emerging environmental concern in the international agenda which is threatening public health and sustainable development. In recent years, it has been increasingly recognised across society, including scientists, doctors, engineers, governments and the general public. According to the UNEP Frontiers 2017, AMR was listed as one of the six emerging issues of environmental concern. Effectiveness of policies and actions to combat AMR rely on the understanding of the problem including factors driving the development of AMR; assessment of the global scope and nature of the problem; and identifying the most effective mitigation and stewardship practices.
At the University of Hong Kong (HKU), academics from the Department of Civil Engineering, School of Public Health, School of Biological Science, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Law and Faculty of Social Science collaboratively formed an AMR team, making the University a regional and global center on AMR research.
With the support from the HKSAR’s Environment and Conservation Fund, Center for Water Technology and Policy of HKU, Wellcome Trust, WYNG Foundation and Resistomap Oy, the 5th International Symposium on Environmental Dimension of Antibiotic Resistance (EDAR) was successfully held at HKU from June 9 to 14, 2019. During the 5-day conference, 30 invited talks, 40 oral presentations and 190 poster presentations were showcased and delivered. A total of 350 attendants from 115 cities of 30 countries joined the conference.
The conference provided new insights on the key issues for advancing protection of public health and the environment, and broadly covered environmental AMR in different aspects, such as fundamental scientific aspects of environmental AMR including sources and drivers; approaches to effective mitigation in different use sectors; connections between environmental hotspots and point sources such as medical settings; risk assessment and policy implications; global aspects and how to better communicate and inform countries/regions etc.
Professor Tong Zhang, the Conference Chair of the Organising Committee of EDAR and the Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering of HKU said in the welcoming remarks, “This conference was not only to share what the work researchers have done on environmental AMR in the past years, but more importantly, to exchange ideas and wisdom on how to tackle antibiotic resistance in the coming future, from the environmental perspective and other relevant aspects.”
Professor Martin Blaster, Chair of the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, USA, delivered an inspiring opening speech on “Antibiotic Resistance as the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of microecological change”. He pointed out that overuse and abuse of antibiotics will lead to significant impacts on human and environmental microbiome which are important for human and environmental health.
Professor George F. Gao, Vice-Director of National Natural Science Foundation of China and Director of China Center for Disease Control, also gave a short address. He emphasised the significance of this emerging challenge to the whole world and shared the new developments of control strategy and research schemes in the Mainland.
The first EDAR was held in Canada in 2012, which was a catalyzing international effort to address the environmental aspect of this challenge. The scope of discussion has grown in size and became more comprehensive over the last four conferences. The focus of concerns now encompass all critical environmental aspects with an emphasis on considering issues holistically, and complementary to discussions in health and other arenas.
For more details of the conference, please visit https://www.antibiotic-resistance.de/.