The United Nations General Assembly Focuses on Antimicrobial Resistance, A Key ASM Initiative

Washington, DC – September 22, 2016 – ASM President, Susan Sharp, attended the historical United Nations General Assembly on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which convened at the UN headquarters in New York this Wednesday, September 21. Heads of State addressed the gravity and causes of AMR, and drafted a resolution of collaborative, cross-cutting approaches to improving the current state of AMR.

Susie sharp amr 2“Each member nation spoke with passion about their concerns regarding AMR,” said Susan Sharp.  “These concerns encompassed the basic needs for clean water and sanitation, access to effective antibiotics in lower income nations, to overutilization and incorrect utilization of antibiotics and the use of antibiotics for preventative and growth promoting effects in agriculture,” she added.

The heads of state who participated in the General Assembly committed to taking a broad, coordinated approach to address the root causes of AMR. A political declaration was drafted at the conference, which recognizes causes, and provides resolutions to combat AMR in a coordinated effort. The resolution acknowledges the root causes of AMR, such as the inappropriate use of antimicrobials in public health, animal, food and agriculture sectors, antimicrobial residues in soil, crops and water, and the lack of access to health services such as diagnostics, and laboratory capacity. They acknowledge that twentieth century achievements are now being challenged due to AMR, and improvements in human and veterinary medicine are now threatened.  

The ASM has long been concerned about AMR and the strategies needed to minimize economic, societal, and public health impacts. A new ASM initiative, the AMR Coalition, recently identified the global AMR threat as an urgent area of focus. The initiative aims to improve laboratory capacity in developing countries, to strengthen global health infrastructures, to better determine the actual burden of AMR in these countries, and to establish a global surveillance system to inform realistic, defensive action plans that also evaluate the impact of intervention measures. The ASM is eager to help strengthen both national and global campaigns against AMR infections and their devastating effects.

“Concerns were expressed at the meeting about the real possibility of entering into a post-antibiotic era with the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria and so few new drugs in the pipeline,” said Sharp, “But everyone agreed that AMR is an immediate global threat to human and animal life, as well as to the environment. All countries expressed their support to combat these emerging resistant organisms.”

Participants at the General Assembly pledged to work at the national, regional, and global levels to mobilize funding and resources for research and development on new and existing antimicrobials, diagnostics and vaccines, and to initiate and sustain awareness and knowledge on AMR in order to encourage behavioral change.