Promoting health through the life-course

Meeting the challenge of antimicrobial resistance

6 JUNE 2016 - A final report and recommendations of the Review on AMR led by Lord Jim O’Neill was presented in New York on 6 June 2016.

More than 30 000 women lose their lives each year globally due to birth-related infections, and even more newborn babies—more than 400 000 yearly— die as a result of severe infections. This situation will only deteriorate if and when antibiotics which treat infections become less effective.

In order to raise awareness to this growing problem, Every Woman Every Child, the ReAct Network, and the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation co-organised a briefing on 6 June entitled “Meeting the Multisectoral Challenge of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)”, co-hosted with the Permanent Missions of Argentina, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Africa, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Viet Nam.

“Every five minutes a child dies in South East Asia from an infection caused by drug-resistant bacteria. HIV, TB and malaria patients and progress on maternal and newborn health are already at the frontline of antimicrobial resistance in many countries,” stated Nana Kuo of EWEC, in her opening remarks.

Keynote address

Lord Jim O’Neill, Chairman of the AMR Review, commissioned by the British Government and the Wellcome Trust, delivered the keynote address and presented the findings of the Review’s final report. He emphasized the need for long-term and sustainable solutions to fight AMR, particularly in reducing demand for antimicrobials so the current stock of drugs lasts longer and increasing the supply of new antimicrobials effective against drugs: “We need to shift the demand curve for antimicrobials. Consumers, as well as industry, have a vital role to play in addressing this.”

Lord O’Neill discussed the importance of public awareness campaigns, stating that “we need more transparency and better labelling, and public awareness of the problem needs to be dramatically improved everywhere.” He also pointed to the need to improve sanitation and hygiene, reduce pollution from agriculture and the environment, improve global surveillance, introduce rapid diagnostics and vaccines, increase the use of market entry rewards, and support an innovation fund to generate more drugs. The report states that investment to fight AMR is a fraction of the cost of inaction in lives and lost productivity: if no new solutions are found to stop the spread, today's 700,000 deaths every year would grow to 10 million, and a cumulative US $100 trillion of economic output would be at risk by 2050.

Ambassador Juan José Gomez Camacho, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations, delivered a video message, and encouraged political commitment to fighting AMR. The Representative was appointed as facilitator to lead consultations to finalize organizational arrangements, including a possible outcome, for the high-level meeting on AMR in September at the UN General Assembly.

Panel discussion

  • Professor Anthony So, Director, Strategic Policy Program for ReAct-Action on Antibiotic Resistance and the Johns Hopkins Center for Livable Future, moderated the panel discussion.
  • Precious Matsoso, Director‐General for the National Department of Health of South Africa spoke of the need for coordination of advocacy and innovation efforts, and of the triple burden of AMR, TB and HIV which South Africa experiences, and the importance of strengthening health systems and quality of care.
  • Rohit Malpani, Director of Policy and Analysis for Doctors Without Borders Access Campaign discussed accountability and access to drugs. He emphasized that “we need a new global R & D framework for antimicrobial drugs that puts patients’ needs first” and that “only governments can ensure that the most vulnerable will not be left behind.”
  • Steve Roach, Food Safety Program Director, Food Animal Concerns Trust / Keep Antibiotics Working said that we must set targets for drastic reduction in antibiotics use.
  • Jaap Wagenaar, Professor of Clinical Infectology, Utrecht University presented the Netherlands work in reducing AMR through the “one health approach.”
  • Yong‐Sang Kim, Director of Animal Health Management Division for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs of South Korea spoke on implementing policies to phase out routine antibiotics in agriculture.
  • Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Health of the United Kingdom stated that fighting AMR is our great opportunity, and to “not let AMR be the reason the Sustainable Development Goals are not met.”
  • Keiji Fukuda, Assistant Director‐General on AMR at the World Health Organization spoke on the work of WHO and its Global Action Plan and emphasized that leadership now is needed for preventative action: “We can act now or react later.”

Minister Wikstrom offered words of encouragement: “We can show our children that progress can be sustained,” he said.

Minister Estrémé highlighted the cross cutting and multidimensional challenge of AMR and the importance of political commitment to tackle it: “As we managed to achieve the historic commitments of last year regarding sustainable development and climate change, it is now imperative that we join efforts to gather the political will and needed resources to collectively address the issue of AMR. We are convinced that this issue should be at the forefront of the United Nations agenda in the upcoming years.”