Drug resistant infections are already on the rise with numbers suggesting that up to 50,000 lives are lost each year to antibiotic-resistant infections in Europe and the US alone. Globally, at least 700,000 die each year of drug resistance in illnesses such as bacterial infections, malaria, HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis. Early research commissioned by the AMR Review suggests that if the world fails to act to control resistance, this toll will exceed 10 million each year by 2050 and have cost the world over 100 trillion USD in lost output.
Specifically for malaria, drug resistance is becoming more and more prevalent. To date, parasite resistance to antimalarials has been documented in three of the five malaria species known to affect humans: P. falciparum, P. vivax and P. malariae. The problem of antimalarial drug resistance is compounded by cross resistance, in which resistance to one drug confers resistance to other drugs that belong to the same chemical family or which have similar modes of action. During the past decades, several antimalarials had to be removed from markets after spread of parasite resistance. The emergence of P. falciparum resistance to artemisinin is an urgent public health concern, threatening the sustainability of the ongoing global effort to reduce the burden of malaria.
In partnership with Becton, Dickinson and Co. (BD) and UNAIDS, we are strategically positioned to play an active role in this global challenge, and can contribute in three specific areas:
- Infection prevention and control in the healthcare environment
- Diagnostic testing to support accurate diagnosis and effective treatment decisions
- Surveillance and reporting on resistance and appropriate use of antimicrobials
On September 21, 2016, during the United Nations General Assembly, our office co-hosted a side meeting together with BD, UNAIDS, the UN Special Envoy’s Office for TB, the UK-based Review of AMR, and the Mission of the UK to the UN, This meeting highlighted the need for public-private collaboration to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and focused on the three areas noted above. The Panel stressed the need for a clear plan, inclusive of a timeline and predetermined, strategic milestones, which builds on a common vision of how to move forward collectively.
Building on this UNGA event, our office supported BD and UNAIDS to plan an event in Davos on January 20th, which focused specifically on committing to diagnostic solutions to tackle AMR.
Additionally, our office is working with partners to gain a better understanding of how antibiotics disrupt a healthy microbiome, how a disrupted microbiome puts people at risk, and how antibiotic stewardship can protect the microbiome. We are also exploring the potential role of the human microbiome as an infection prevention measure as well as an alternative to antibiotic treatment.