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International summit calls for AMR accountability in public health interventions

21 March 2024

The UK-Africa Health Summit took place this week, uniting global health leaders in antimicrobial stewardship to tackle this increasing threat ahead of the 2024 High-level Meeting on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in New York.

Five people sit together on a stage to discuss antimicrobial resistance (AMR) at a conferencePanel event at UK-Africa Health Summit in London, March 2024

From 18 to 19 March 2024, the global health community gathered in London for the UK-Africa Health Summit, an important precursor to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) High-level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) taking place in September this year. Convening under the theme ‘Accelerating collaborative approaches to health workforce sustainability and antimicrobial stewardship’, the meeting discussed initiatives for curbing AMR, one of the most pressing public health challenges.

Closing the session on Monday, the UK’s Minister of State for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell, spoke of the importance of sustainable partnerships and alliances in responding to global health challenges and emphasised the need for collaborative approaches to health workforce sustainability and antimicrobial stewardship. Improved communication and coordination globally, alongside effective monitoring and evaluation to improve accountability of AMR interventions, will be critical in tackling this increasing threat.

In 2019, AMR caused 1.27 million deaths worldwide. The crisis is particularly acute in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in sub-Saharan Africa, which bears a disproportionate burden of AMR. The threat of resistance to artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) — the most effective treatment for uncomplicated malaria — compounds the situation and could undermine progress in efforts to eliminate malaria.

AMR, while occurring naturally, has accelerated in scale and speed due to factors including overuse and misuse of antimicrobial drugs in both humans and animal husbandry, and environmental contamination with drugs.

The UK government has provided funding for international partnerships to find global solutions to tackle AMR. Strengthening national surveillance systems in LMICs to improve monitoring and understanding of AMR trends to allow timely and effective responses and evidence-based decision-making has been identified as a key pillar, as has community engagement and investment in research and development (R&D).

In collaboration with partners, Malaria Consortium’s ongoing work in Bangladesh and Nepal is implementing and evaluating an innovative, community-led community engagement intervention to address the contextual drivers of AMR.

“Engaging communities is essential to cultivate a broader understanding of AMR and encourage individual and collective action in support of stewardship initiatives. Even with investment in research and development promising new tools and therapies to outpace the emergence of drug resistance, the behaviour of individuals is crucial in contributing to efforts to preserve the effectiveness of treatments and safeguard health for future generations”, reflected Helen Hawkings, Malaria Consortium’s Social and Behaviour Change Specialist.

The summit’s spotlight on AMR offered a timely impetus for building momentum ahead of the High-level Meeting in New York later this year. As participants look toward the outcomes of this gathering, it is hoped that concerted actions today will pave the way for a safer, healthier future with a lessened burden of AMR.

Read more in our position statement: Antimicrobial resistance: A growing threat to global health

Image by Action for Global Health


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