Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing public health threat with the potential to cause a global pandemic. AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites develop resistance to antimicrobial drugs that were previously effective in treating infections. This means that infections that were once easily treatable can become difficult, if not impossible, to treat.
On April 25, 2023, key stakeholders from around the globe came together to discuss the critical challenges and necessary efforts to combat AMR at the IiH Annual Forum, at the same time that the European Commission adopted a proposal to intensify efforts to address AMR, and the United States Congress reintroduced the Pioneering Antimicrobial Subscriptions to End Upsurging Resistance (PASTEUR) Act to encourage novel drug development to treat resistant infections. Panelists included AMR experts and leaders from the public, private, and development sectors, who shared their ongoing work to address AMR globally, nationally, and within health systems.
Two key takeaways emerged from the panel discussions:
Coordinated multisectoral actions to address AMR is critical. As countries move to the second round of the National Action Plan for AMR originally developed against the backdrop of the WHO’s Global Action Plan for AMR, there was a call for multisectoral actions to implement strategies and plans. As a critical challenge in the 21st century, AMR requires the collaboration of various stakeholders across the human, animal, agriculture, and environment sectors to develop and implement contextual solutions to address AMR.
Low- and middle-income countries need novel approaches to solve intractable challenges with respect to AMR. To prevent inappropriate use of antimicrobials, low- and middle-income countries must have access to rapid, point of care diagnostics that would allow them to conduct routine testing with quicker turnaround times of results. Far too often, clinical providers in low resource settings have limited access to point of care diagnostics as well as inadequate supplies of needed antimicrobials. Frontline health workers in these settings need access to both rapid and reliable testing that feeds into robust surveillance systems, and a regular supply of antibiotics used to treat leading infections in different regions.
Over the last two years, IiH has provided technical assistance to the Ministries of Health and hospitals in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda to implement and sustain AMR surveillance through the Surveillance Partnership to Improve Data for Action on AMR (SPIDAAR), a public private partnership funded by Pfizer, Inc, along with Wellcome Trust. Through this experience, IiH has developed recommendations for a systems approach and whole system planning to combat AMR and address issues beyond the control of any one hospital, lab, or ministry.
Ultimately, a coordinated, multisectoral response by key international, regional, and national stakeholders is necessary to address AMR effectively and equitably. Governments, healthcare professionals, researchers, industry, and the public all have a role to play in tackling this important issue. It is essential that we act now to preserve the effectiveness of our antimicrobial drugs and protect public health for generations to come.
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