World leaders pledged a stronger commitment to curb the spread of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) infections, during the high-level meeting on AMR at the 71st UN General Assembly, which took place on September 21, 2016.
AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi become resistant against medicines that were previously able to cure them, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Common and life-threatening infections like pneumonia, gonorrhoea, and post-operative infections, as well as HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria are increasingly becoming untreatable because of AMR.
For the first time, heads of state vowed to address the root causes of AMR across all sectors, especially human health, animal health and agriculture. They aim to develop national action plans, based on the Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance, and to call for more global funding and stronger systems to monitor drug-resistant infections and the volume of antimicrobials used.
The leaders stressed that regulation and greater awareness of antimicrobials is also a priority, as well as using innovative alternatives and new technologies for diagnosis and vaccines.
The countries requested better use of existing, cost-effective tools for preventing infections in humans and animals. These include immunization, safe water and sanitation, good hygiene in hospitals, and animal husbandry. Systems to ensure better use of existing and new antibiotics is also essential. This applies across sectors.
“AMR is a problem not just in our hospitals, but on our farms and in our food, took,” said Dr José Graziano da Silva, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “Agriculture must shoulder its share of responsibility, both by using antimicrobials more responsibly and by cutting down on the need to use them, through good farm hygiene.”