Why the UN High-Level Meeting is critical to the fight against AMR

Next year, the United Nations will hold a High-Level Meeting (HLM) to discuss the global coordination necessary to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The rise of AMR continues to be one of the biggest threats to global health and modern medicine. An estimated 1.2 million people die from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections every year, and this resistance is rising.

High-Level Meeting on antimicrobial resistance

The first HLM on AMR in 2016 proved consequential. It called for concerted action from public and private sectors to address the implications of AMR in a comprehensive manner and implement strategies at a national level — across human health, animal health, agriculture and other factors. The AMR Industry Alliance, which I chair, is a key part of the life sciences industry’s response to that call for action.

Seizing the moment

Much has changed since 2016. Several governments have rethought the value new antibiotics bring to society and introduced policy reforms to support increased research and development. For instance, the UK has debuted pull incentives to spur antibiotic innovation. Without prompt action to bring researchers back into this field, we risk losing valuable expertise that will be impossible to restore in time. Equally, we must increase our use of diagnostic tools to ensure valuable new antibiotics remain effective for many years.

The AMR Industry Alliance has also made significant progress and continues to be an engaged partner with public and private stakeholders alike. We introduced a responsible manufacturing certification that works towards reducing the environmental impact of the global antibiotic supply chain; we promoted stewardship activities in low-to-middle-income countries through our annual Stewardship Prize; and we advocated for antibiotic access initiatives, including strengthening the sustainability of off-patent antibiotics.

Collaboration to stop the rise of AMR

Despite this progress, we must move faster, together, if we’re going to effectively combat the rise of AMR. Leading up to next year’s HLM, the Alliance will step up our work with the UN and its Member States to broaden the collective efforts against AMR, working with various stakeholders to identify and prioritise AMR solutions.

Without meaningful change to how we incentivise antibiotic development, deliver them to patients across the world and use diagnostic tools to support rational use, rates of AMR will continue to rise — ushering in what some have called a ‘post-antibiotic’ world. The UN HLM can be a powerful catalyst of change. By working together, we can ensure that momentum continues in this critical fight.

date 20/11/2023
Author James Anderson