The 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly took place from 19-23 September at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA. Heads of states and governments from 193 Member States convened to address global challenges, including for the first time ways to tackle antimicrobial resistance. This is only the fourth time a health issue has been taken up by the UN General Assembly (the others were HIV, noncommunicable diseases, and Ebola).
In a political declaration, Heads of States committed to taking a broad, coordinated approach to address the root causes of AMR across multiple sectors, especially human health, animal health and agriculture. They pledged to strengthen regulation of antimicrobials, improve knowledge and awareness, and promote best practices — as well as to foster innovative approaches using alternatives to antimicrobials and new technologies for diagnosis and vaccines.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union and its Member States Commissioner Andriukatis stated that The European Union welcomes the Declaration’s emphasis on strengthening infection prevention and control, ensuring appropriate access to diagnostics and antimicrobials and investing in research and innovation for new antibiotics and alternative therapies. Mr Andriukaitis also welcomed the focus on monitoring and surveillance of AMR, sanitation, clean water and universal health coverage as key measures to prevent infections; on the need for prudent use of antimicrobials and for increasing awareness of AMR. He reaffirmed the EU’s goal to implement the WHO Global Action Plan on AMR which was published in 2015.
In the EU, 25.000 people die each year from an infection due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Infections due to these selected multidrug-resistant bacteria in the EU result in extra healthcare costs and productivity losses of at least €1.5 billion each year. If the current trend is not altered, 300 million people worldwide are expected to die prematurely because of drug resistance over the next 35 years.
In June of this year, the Commission published the Eurobarometer results on Antimicrobial Resistance awareness. The main conclusion of this Eurobarometer was that knowledge across the EU remains low. The report shows a 6% decrease in consumption in the last years even though some countries are still showing an increase in their consumption.