Antimicrobial resistance has put the world in turmoil and global leaders are well aware of this alarming situation. To devise a workable framework for combating this nuisance, on 21st September, the United Nations held a meeting in New York, US, and concluded robust actions are to be taken to eradicate the threat.
The leaders who are meeting to discuss the political and peace scenario at a global level are timely synergizing their efforts to curb the effects of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) which is turning grave by day.
During the meeting, representative leaders from all 193 UN member states agreed to curb the increasing rates of antimicrobial resistance which claims more than 700,000 lives per annum.
This is only the fourth time that a high-level meeting is held in the General Assembly for addressing health issues. Before this, the UN General Assembly had previously called upon such large scale meetings to discuss combat strategies against HIV, non-communicable diseases and Ebola virus outbreak.
During the meeting, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addressed the General Assembly and declared antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as a fundamental and long-term threat to not only human health but also to the sustainable food production and development.
He added that more than 200,000 newborn babies die annually from infections which become resistant to antibiotics. The resistance to tuberculosis drugs has been identified in 105 countries while the resistance to HIV AIDS drugs is on an exponential rise.
Africa is met with an epidemic of multi-drug resistance to typhoid which is spreading through water outlets. The misery does end here; it continues to cause severe antimalarial drug resistance in the Greater Mekong sub-region.
He cautioned the world leaders that he was not talking of the future damage antimicrobial resistance could cause but he was stating startling facts of the present global situation. As the spread of this resistance has extended from humans to live farm animals to meat and agricultural, it is high time to take action against this dilemma before the rates of deaths due to life-threatening infections begin to exceed to that caused by deadly diseases like cancer.
The genetic evolution of microorganisms to resistant the drug effects are yet another threat and the resulting “superbug” outbreaks can become more dangerous in future, if not curbed now.
The Secretary General of the UN also feared that antimicrobial resistance is not only a potential threat to global disease burden but it has the ability to sabotage the completion of Millennium Development Goals which include controlling HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and improving the survival rates of mothers and newborn babies.
Knowing that combating antimicrobial resistance won’t be an easy task to accomplish, the Secretary General said that it is important for all global leaders to come forward and cooperate to develop a strategy for this fight, which is going to get worse with time, if not responded now.
Calling upon all leaders, he reiterated that the doctors, farmers, veterinarians and patients believe that these medicines work but it is now the responsibility of these global leaders to let everyone know about the truth behind failing efficacy of these drugs.
Draft Declaration Of General Assembly’s Meeting On Antimicrobial Resistance
It is worth mentioning here that before convening this meeting, all 193 global leaders signed a declaration on Wednesday to “combat the proliferation of antibiotic resistance”. These global leaders made an unwavering commitment to take a broad and well coordinated route to address the root causes of AMR across human health sector, agricultural sector and animal health sector, which is a strong political declaration at a global front. The declaration also looked upon the devising a global response to reduce the potential damage of superbug.
The declaration gave a clear framework for devising the efforts against antimicrobial resistance. The blueprint for tackling antimicrobial resistance given by the WHO’s global action plan on antimicrobial resistance and strategic objectives were reaffirmed.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which is a framework for combating antimicrobial infections and antimicrobial resistance challenges were also reaffirmed. The states acknowledged the severity of the situation and the rise of drug resistance to bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic infections.
The state leaders unanimously agreed that the achievements of twentieth century for formulating wide spectrum antimicrobial drugs and controlling an array of infections are greatly challenged. It was recognized that due to AMR, the protection of vulnerable groups against infections will become a challenge on a global level which include elderly people, women giving birth, newborn babies and those who undergo surgeries or chemotherapy.
Concerns on health services accessibility and the effect of quality of lives for millions of people will be disrupted, will also be critically analyzed. The state leaders also have to look at the affect on death toll, hospital admissions, the social and economic impact of AMR. The prevention and control of infections at an early stage will become a prime focus globally, which will include interventions like improving hygiene, sanitation facilities, better immunizations, rapid diagnosis tests and providing alternative medicines.
It was also agreed that the rise of this resistance was contributed by multiple factors which require attention at international, national and regional levels. The research and development efforts will also be paced up to find ways of understanding and developing counter-treatment for AMR.
In this regard, the governmental, non-governmental organizations and academia will join hands to provide resources to support innovative ideas for controlling this global health hazard. The affordability and access to existing and new antimicrobial medicines, diagnosis and vaccines will become a global priority and the needs of all the countries will be taken into account in line with the WHO’s plan of action and ‘One Health’ approach.
A very crucial point of improving the monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance was also made part of this declaration. With this the data obtained will help formulate policies and work in collaboration with the stakeholders hospitals, local authorities, industries, agriculture and aquaculture sector to help reducing the use of antibiotic, corresponding AMR and presence of drug residues in the soil, water and crops.
The states will also collaborate to enhance capacity-building, technology transfer and providing technical assistance to control the problem. Special considerations will be given to the strengthening of healthcare systems and regulatory plans in low income countries.
Awareness campaigns about the unnecessary use of antimicrobial drugs and the long-term harms will run to gain support from the masses in this unified struggle against AMR. Information will be shared from evidence based findings for incorporating good practices for disease management is health care professionals and patients.
It was also agreed that the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and World Organization for Animal Health will collaborate with the states and finalize a global development t and stewardship framework, requested by the World Health Assembly in its resolution 68.7. These organizations will help in the development, control, distribution and use of new antimicrobial drugs, vaccines and diagnosis tools.
To conclude the declaration, it was requested the Secretary General establish an ad hoc interagency coordination group in collaboration with WHO, FAO and OIE to provide practical guidelines for devising framework which can ensure sustainable plan to combat the challenge, which is viable for all the countries.
It was said that by the 73rd Session of the General Assembly in year 2018 an implementation report of this declaration will be presented to evaluate developments and recommendations for ensuring improved outcomes.
The Role Of WHO, FAO And OIE For Combating Antimicrobial Resistance
In a joint meeting organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), it was stressed that collective efforts are the only way to fight off this challenge.
The participants said that addressing these challenges to food security, health, overall development and economic sustainability reaffirmed the commitment of global leaders to develop national action plans on ARM which will be based upon the Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance. This Global Action Plan has a pivotal value to these efforts, as it performs as the blueprint for tackling AMR which was development in 2015 as a joint collaboration of WHO, FAO and OIE.
In the meeting, these organizations reminded the global leaders that the high levels of AMR in today’s world are the result of unregulated use of antibiotic and other antimicrobial drugs in humans, animals including farm fish, crops and the drug residues in the crops, water outlets and soil.
Dr Jose Graziano da Silva, the director general of FAO, said that the problem of AMR is not confined to our hospitals only, but they have taken over our farms and our food. And to find a permanent solution to this serious global health concern, it is important for the agriculturalists and farms to join this mission and share the responsibility.
Similarly, Dr Monique Eloit, OIE director general added that the role of antibiotics is important for protecting animal health and the welfare of live stock, which is why they urge all national authorities to play an active role in this effort and provide prudent use of these drugs.
Alongside, the prevention of infections was given great importance and modalities to prevent infections in the first place were emphasized upon. These strategies included improving sanitation, immunization, water hygiene, cleanliness in hospitals and husbandries, which subsequently would lead to minimized need for administrating antimicrobial drugs.
Now that the global leaders are on the same page for combating the global health hazard of antimicrobial resistance, it is hoped that by the time these leaders meet in 2018 to evaluate the progress, things are moving in the right direction.