Food & DrinkWHO seeks experts on microbial hazards

WHO seeks experts on microbial hazards

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The World Health Organization (WHO) is looking for people with experience on risk assessment of microbiological hazards.

The call comes as the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Meeting on Microbiological Risk Assessment (JEMRA) is renewing its expert roster for January 2023 to December 2027.

JEMRA is an international scientific expert group run by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and WHO. Meetings are convened on an ad-hoc basis, depending on requests from Codex.

One of the main aims is to provide a review of scientific advice on the state of microbiological risk assessment, and to develop the means of achieving risk assessments for specific pathogen -commodity combinations. Work often includes an evaluation of the impacts of different risk management options in the reduction or control of microbiological risks in food based on an analysis of the available knowledge.

FAO and WHO are seeking experts from across the research, academia, industry and regulatory sectors. Fields include food microbiology, epidemiology, food science, microbial behavior, design and implementation of sampling plans, risk ranking and lab methods.

People will be invited to participate only in their individual capacity based on expertise to provide advice on specific topics and must declare any potential interests. Meetings are in English and participation is required for the whole duration, usually five days for a physical meeting or a few weeks if it is virtual. 

A review of applicants will begin on Oct. 1, 2022, and continue until suitable candidates are identified. For more information and to apply follow this link.

AMR and genomics

Meanwhile, WHO has published two reports on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the role of genomics in public health.

The AMR report states more vaccines must be developed to tackle antimicrobial-resistant bacterial pathogens. Preventing infections using vaccination reduces the use of antibiotics, which is one of the main drivers of AMR. 

AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites change and no longer respond to medicines, making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, illness and death. 

The report calls for global access to vaccines, especially among populations that need them most in limited-resource settings. There are already vaccines against Typhoid fever (Salmonella Typhi), which is a priority bacterial pathogen.

Vaccine candidates in early clinical trials or with moderate to high feasibility of development include enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), Klebsiella pneumoniae, non-typhoidal Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Shigella. Vaccines against these pathogens might be available in the long term.

The genomics report states the technology presents opportunities to address public health issues like the global burden of disease and food security through the surveillance of pathogens and use in agriculture.

It can be used in the investigation of cluster outbreaks to identify potential sources of the infectious agent and mapping chains of transmission within a community.

Authors of the report called for expanded access to genomic technologies, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), by addressing shortfalls in financing, lab infrastructure, materials, and trained personnel. 

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