Urgent calls have been made for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to put antibiotic resistance on the global agenda by Sweden, the UK and Ireland at the Sixty Sixth World Health Assembly in Geneva.
UK Chief Medical Officer Prof Dame Sally Davies said “this is going to affect our children and grandchildren, as well as our old age.”
Antibiotics are becoming less effective in the treatment of illness in humans. This is due to the over-use of antibiotics not only in human and animal health but also in agriculture and food production.
Dr Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) addressed the panel from the floor.
She said “there is a disturbingly dry pipeline of new antibiotics. The time for action is now.”
Of particular concern is the resistance of micro-organisations such as bacteria, viruses and some parasites to antimicrobial medicines such as antibiotics.
The side event, co-hosted by Sweden, the UK and Ireland at the Sixty-Sixth World Health Assembly (WHA66), was an attempt to raise the profile of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) to garner support and leadership from WHO.
AMR threatens a return to a pre-antibiotic era. Drug resistant strains of diseases such as tuberculosis are already on the increase in the UK. Without the front line protection of antibiotics the likelihood of catching and dying from previously treatable illnesses will also rise over the coming decades.
Mr Goran Hagglund, Swedish Health Minister said “the fight against antimicrobials cannot be a side event. It has to be the main event because if not it will simply take the attention that it needs.”
The panel called for greater public awareness as well as higher profile action at a national and international level.
Ensuring the appropriately level of prescription and use of antibiotics will be part of the UK’s strategy on antibiotic resistance, due to be launched in the summer.
Written Reports submitted to the side event:
Link to WHA66 journal:
UK Strategy for antibiotic resistance – to be launched summer 2013