Global leaders advocate urgent action on antimicrobial resistance

Global leaders advocate urgent action on antimicrobial resistance
© iStock/Sinhyu

As the antimicrobial resistance crisis accelerates across the globe, world leaders are advocating for urgent action to combat the problem.

The leaders, including the heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the World Health Organization (WHO), have now launched the new One Health Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, which aims to catalyse global attention and action to preserve antimicrobial medicines and help to avert the consequences of antimicrobial resistance.

Members of the new One Health Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance include heads of government, government ministers, leaders from the private sector and civil society, and is co-chaired by their Excellencies Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, and Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

The dangers of AMR

The group was launched during World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2020 (18-24 November), as part of their shared call for united action to preserve and protect antimicrobial medicines.

The group described the rapid rise of antimicrobial resistance as one of the world’s most urgent threats to human, animal, plant, and environmental health, endangering food security, international trade, economic development, and undermining progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The group also highlighted that antimicrobial resistance also leads to increased health care costs, hospital admissions, treatment failure, severe illness, and death, as well as making many infections harder to treat worldwide.

The WHO’s latest reporting shows that the world is running out of effective treatments for several common infections.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said: “Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest health challenges of our time, and we cannot leave it for our children to solve. Now is the time to forge new, cross-sector partnerships that will protect the medicines we have and revitalise the pipeline for new ones.”

The main drivers of the problem are the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in humans, animals, and agriculture. Resistant micro-organisms can spread between humans, animals or the environment, and the antimicrobial medicines used to treat various infectious diseases in animals and humans are often the same.

QU Dongyu, Director-General of FAO, said: “No single sector can solve this problem alone. Collective action is required to address the threat of antimicrobial resistance – across different economic sectors and country borders.”

Fighting AMR across the globe

The One Health Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance will provide political leadership to help address this critical global challenge, and will elevate the need to prioritise best practices to address antimicrobial resistance at global, regional, and national levels, as well as advising and advocating for the development and implementation of polices and legislation to govern the importation, manufacture, distribution, and use of quality antimicrobial drugs across all sectors.

Dr Monique Eloit, Director General of OIE, said: “Antimicrobial resistance is a current problem affecting animal health, human health, and the environment, we need to act today to protect their efficacy.  I am confident that this group will advocate powerfully to implement legislation and mobilise key stakeholders to change antimicrobial use practices to protect our collective health and welfare.”

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