Antibiotics Awareness Week 14 – 20 November 2016

It is crucial that the global crisis of antimicrobial resistance worldwide is addressed. The 2015 O’Neill report concluded that unless a solution is found to the problem, 10 million people worldwide will die of bacterial infections by 2050.

Now, an influential paper by researchers at the University of Edinburgh argues that efforts to tackle drug-resistant infections will require a global fund of at least $5 billion each year.

Experts in infectious diseases are calling for a World Bank Trust Fund to coordinate global action on this growing public health crisis.

Growing resistance is leading to the emergence of superbugs that can cause life-threatening infections, such as MRSA or drug-resistant tuberculosis.  Researchers say that tackling the problem will require a coordinated global response and recommend introducing targets to reduce the number of drug-resistant infections over the next five years.

Professor Mark Woolhouse, of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Immunity, Infection and Evolution, said:

Drug resistance knows no borders, as we have seen with the spread of superbugs around the world.  It is crucial that nations come together with appropriate financing and governance to tackle this challenge together.”

$5 billion is needed annually to develop global systems for monitoring resistance and to establish the framework needed to address the threat, experts add.

This investment could also be used to accelerate the development of new vaccines, diagnostics and treatments, as well as regulatory processes to ensure that current medicines are being used appropriately.

In addition to financial investment, the group proposes global limits on antibiotics use. In particular, use of antibiotics in agriculture to promote growth of farmed animals should be phased out worldwide, they argue.  Improving access to clean water, sanitation and public health infrastructure will help to curb the spread of disease and also reduce the overall need for antibiotics.

Researchers from the US Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, the University of Edinburgh, New York University and Fudan University in China have outlined their proposals in the journal Science.

Their recommendations came ahead of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September 2016, where heads of states from around the world discussed how best to preserve global access to effective medicines for infectious diseases.

AMR discussed at the United Nations General Assembly

For the first time, Heads of State have committed to taking a broad, coordinated approach to address the root causes of AMR across multiple sectors, especially human health, animal health and agriculture. This is only the fourth time a health issue habeen taken up by the UN General Assembly, highlighting the seriousness with which world leaders now view the problem.

After the declaration, President of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson said

"Antimicrobial resistance threatens the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and requires a global response.  Member States have today agreed upon a strong political declaration that provides a good basis for the international community to move forward.  No one country, sector or organization can address this issue alone."

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