UK calls for international action on antimicrobial resistance

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Professor Dame Sally Davies are leading a delegation to the World Health Assembly in Geneva. They are calling for international action to deal with the growing problem of fewer medicines to treat the soaring number of antibiotic-resistant infections.

Jeremy Hunt will today address the World Health Assembly made up of representatives of all member states. Following the CMO’s challenge in her annual report in March, Professor Dame Sally Davies will jointly host a seminar tomorrow with the Swedish Health Minister. It will include speeches from senior officials from the Philippines, India and Australia.

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt said:

" Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem. There are few public health issues of greater importance."

"We need stronger international partnerships and coalitions so that the threat of AMR is fully recognised and the responsibility for reducing it is shared."

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies said:

"We in the UK are taking this issue extremely seriously and will be publishing a 5-year, cross government strategy in the summer."

"But we can’t really tackle it unless we get coordinated, international action, which is why we’re working in partnership to push it up the global political agenda."

"If we don’t take action, in 20 years’ time we could be back in the 19th century where infections kill us as a result of routine operations."

Discussions focused on the main objectives of the new UK cross-government Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy, to be published in the summer, which include:

  • slowing down the development and spread of AMR, by improving understanding, surveillance and prescribing
  • maintaining the efficacy of existing antimicrobials, by stricter infection prevention and better stewardship
  • supporting the development of new antimicrobials and alternative treatments by closer working with regulatory bodies, the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Union (EU) and other international partners

The UK’s 5-year, cross-government AMR strategy is due to be published in the summer.

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Next review: 30 May 2020