With the adoption of the political declaration during the 71st UN General Assembly High-level Meeting on AMR in September, Member States called upon the UN Secretary General in collaboration with the WHO to establish an ad hoc Inter-Agency Coordination Group (IACG). In the preceding negotiations around the Political Declaration, ReAct had advocated for the formation of such a group to ensure global coordination among and accountability of the different UN agencies.
The IACG was given the mandate to provide practical guidance on ensuring swift, effective action on AMR and also develop recommendations including on coordination of global and cross-sectoral efforts. In 2018, the Secretary-General is also asked to report-back to the UN General Assembly on the IACG’s efforts and progress achieved towards the commitments outlined in the declaration.
ReAct and Daghammarskjöld Foundation will send letters to UN Secretary-General’s office and WHO
So far very limited news has emerged on who is in charge of setting up the IACG, what the terms of reference will look like and what the nature of its work will be. ReAct and the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation will send letters (PDF) during the 2016 World Antibiotic Awareness Week to the UN Secretary-General’s office and WHO outlining certain key steps for establishing the IACG. It is anticipated that this group will be established by the end of this year.
The WHO Director-General Margaret Chan stated during the UNGA, that the IACG should be “open, transparent, and inclusive”. In line with this it is clear that civil society and other key stakeholders must be involved early in the process including for the drafting of its terms of reference.
Moreover, there is a need for clear guidelines to safeguard the IACG against any conflicts of interest that may unduly influence its work. Additionally, a scientific advisory panel to the IACG should be established to ensure the IACG’s work is soundly based on available scientific data and evidence.
Finally, the reporting on progress must be closely coordinated and aligned between the IACG and other global initiatives relevant to AMR, including the Global Health Security Agenda, the SDG progress review and others to avoid conflation of reporting processes.
There is much work ahead and a key challenge will be to ensure that the landscape of mushrooming policy initiatives, forum shifts, cross-sectoral work streams, funding, monitoring and surveillance mechanisms are adequately coordinated and duplication are avoided. The Inter-Agency Coordination Group should make it its primary goal to adequately address this challenge.