Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent public health threats. Experts and policymakers are agreeing that there is far too little done to initiate the necessary systems changes needed to address this global challenge. As a step forward, the Asia Europe Foundation in collaboration with the Japanese Minister of foreign affairs and the AMR Clinical Reference Center arranged the high-level conference “Universal health coverage in an era of antimicrobial resistance and pandemics”.
60 participants from government agencies, academia, civil society and private sector in Asia and Europe gathered 21-22 February in Tokyo, Japan, to discuss Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in an era of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and pandemics. For the agenda point pandemic prevention, preparedness and response Anna Sjöblom, Director ReAct Europe was invited to speak and participate in a panel discussion.
Agenda point 1:
Universal health coverage and AMR – what is the connection?
Universal Health Coverage – to ensure that all people can receive the health services they need at an affordable cost throughout life is part of the sustainable development goals. And stronger health care systems – where people have access to appropriate and effective antibiotic treatment when in need – will improve people’s health and is therefore important to address antimicrobial resistance in a robust way. Universal Health Coverage not only ensures people’s access to health services and protects them from financial hardships, it is a tool to combat antimicrobial resistance.
There have been several previous statements on this for example by Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO saying:
In 2023, the second UN High-Level Meeting on UHC will happen at the UN General Assembly in September.
Agenda point 2:
Prevention, preparedness and response to pandemics and AMR
Another important focus commitment among nations and global health actors is to address prevention, preparedness and response to pandemics. COVID-19 made it clear that most, almost all, countries were quite unprepared to respond adequately during a pandemic. There are many lessons learned for ongoing and future pandemics – especially in relation to equity and need of cross border collaborations.
This was also one of the topics on the second day of the conference in Tokyo where Anna Sjöblom, Director React Europe, contributed with a presentation and joined a panel discussion. The session was called Positioning AMR within the Global Health Security Architecture.
The other panelists were:
- Ms Akiko Mera, UHC 2030
- Dr Sudha Chandrashekar, Health System transformation platform
- Mr Anand Balachandran (Unit Head AMR National Action Plans and Monitoring), WHO
Moderator: Dr Norio Ohmagari, AMR Clinical Reference Center, Japan
Discussant: Dr Jaroslaw Waligora, Deputy Head of Unit, Health Security European Commission
Anna Sjöblom, Director ReAct Europe says:
““It is very important in this point of time that work against antibiotic resistance is built into other important processes and agendas within global health, where to major ones are Universal Health Coverage and Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response. In regards to pandemics, a binding agreement to address antibiotic resistance has so far been lacking. Now when a global instrument for pandemics is under development, the opportunity to include AMR in a clear and well defined way cannot be missed!”
Key messages and action points from the conference
- The meeting agreed the importance of recognizing the linkage between antimicrobial resistance, Universal Health Coverage and pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. Global coordination and collaboration are needed to streamline actions and avoid duplication of effort at the country level.
- Efforts to increase awareness of antimicrobial resistance will help build political support at all levels. Governments need to establish coalitions for change based on a good knowledge of antimicrobial resistance and ways to address the challenge.
- The problem of antimicrobial resistance is global and requires a global response that takes issues of inequality into account. Governments need to take the lead in establishing a mechanism to ensure access to basic health care, including prevention and treatment for infections. In low-income countries, they may require support from the global community.
- New arrangements are needed to stimulate the development of new antimicrobials. Governments will need to play a key role in ensuring that investments take public health needs into account. It will be important for countries to coordinate actions in building a global capacity for scientific research and for the development and manufacture of antimicrobials.
The Asia Europe Foundation, in collaboration with the Japanese Minister of foreign affairs and the AMR Clinical Reference Center, released a report from the 2-days High-Level conference, ending with 5 key messages from the day.
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