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The growth and global spread of infections resistant to almost all known antibiotics is a huge looming threat. A recent study estimates up to 10 million lives could be lost each year by 2050, with enormous economic impact. Antimicrobial resistance could reverse progress made against big global killers such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis. Even common surgery could carry a lethal risk of infection. CGD work examines the incentives, innovation, and impetus needed to ensure collective action to produce a new generation of antibiotics, and encourage their widespread development and use.
With the threat of antimicrobial resistance on the rise, we are heartened by President Barack Obama’s recent executive order that outlines a national strategy to combat drug resistance, including creation of an inter-agency task force to implement and monitor the plan. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that up to 2 million Americans suffer from antibiotic-resistant infections each year and that 23,000 of them die.
The US has an untapped opportunity to offer global leadership against drug resistance through the major global health programs it already supports, namely PEPFAR, the Global Fund, and the Presidents Malaria Imitative. In this memo, Victoria Fan and Amanda Glassman highlight considerations for Congress with respect to oversight of these key channels of US development assistance for health that greatly affect drug resistance.
By Mario Raviglione, Director, Stop TB, WHO
In less than six months, WHO will issue a clear call for action to halt the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). WHO has adopted Combating Antimicrobial Resistance as the theme for World Health Day 2011, held annually on 7 April. World Health Day offers the opportunity to engage all 192 WHO Member States in action against antimicrobial resistance. Actions to be taken include coherent planning and policy change, communications, advocacy and implementation initiatives. These steps will be stimulated through targeted guidance and messages to Ministers of Health, the public and all key stakeholders with roles in the emergence and containment of drug resistance. Public events with commitments to action, roundtable discussions, press conferences and launches of initiatives are expected that day.
As the readers of this newsletter know well, AMR greatly increases healthcare costs and threatens the gains made for individuals and society through disease prevention and control efforts. It is a health security concern and carries implications for the International Health Regulations and for trade. Without action, AMR could take us back to the pre-antibiotic era. There is currently a lack of a coherent approach to prevention and containment of AMR.
The complex problem of AMR demands strong leadership and stewardship from governments. WHO will work with Ministers of Health around the globe to pursue a new policy package, based on available evidence, which will include recommendations on planning, surveillance, medicine quality, rational use of medicines, infection prevention and control, and research, among other measures, to contain AMR.
World Health Day offers an opportunity as well for the AMR experts and interested partners reading this newsletter to pursue their own companion events before, on, and after April 7, 2011. Advocacy days such as World Health Day are powerful insofar as they stimulate sustained change, building on the global energy that comes with so many key stake-holders committing to action on a common concern at the same time.