News and Opinions  –  2019

Launch of UNICEF’s institutional guidance on antimicrobial resistance

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2019-11-25

At their headquarters in New York, UNICEF hosted an event on Friday 22nd November, to launch their technical note on antimicrobial resistance. This event, attended by UNICEF staff, representatives from countries’ permanent missions to the UN, representatives from other UN agencies and civil society including ReAct. The event was an opportunity to advocate for the inclusion of children's health and rights as part of the global response to antimicrobial resistance. The technical note describes UNICEF’s multi-sectoral activities that will have direct and indirect impact on antimicrobial resistance.

Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF, opened the launch of UNICEF’s new guidance paper on AMR. Photo: ReAct Europe.

UNICEF’s Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore opened the launch with highlighting the importance of managing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and voiced UNICEF’s commitment to address this threat to children’s health and development. Stefan Swartling Peterson, chief of Health at UNICEF stressed the critical situation of resistant infections and how UNICEF’s work can help change behavior, prevent infections and provide quality care to children around the world.

“Over 200,000 infants with sepsis die due to resistant bacteria die annually, that means one child dies every third minute from these drug-resistant infections,”

stated Stefan Peterson, UNICEF.

In a recorded message from Jeremy Farrar, the Director of Wellcome Trust, he expressed their commitment to antimicrobial resistance and how they through its partnership with UNICEF will work to address the threat of drug resistant infections.

Drug-resistant infections challenge for children’s health globally

Andreas Sandgren, ReAct, presenting hard facts how antibiotic resistance affects children across the globe. Photo: ReAct Europe.

ReAct’s Andreas Sandgren provided an overview the problem of antimicrobial resistance and how it affects children. Already today, antimicrobial resistance is a critically important challenge for the health of children globally. Infectious diseases unproportionately affects children. Infectious diseases are leading causes of deaths globally and access to effective antimicrobials are critical for the treatment and survival of these children. With increasing rates of antimicrobial resistance the avoidable deaths from infections are increasing and will continue to do so.

UNICEF can address AMR through already existing activities

UNICEF’s Alex Costa presented the institutional technical note on AMR and described the approach how UNICEF play a role in addressing antimicrobial resistance through its activities.The technical note has identified current efforts through which UNICEF already contribute and scope for future to prevent the spread of infections, promote access to and optimal use of antimicrobials, and in communication to increase AMR awareness and understanding.

UNICEF has much of the needed expertise and are implementing activities related to many aspects that contribute to manage the problem of antimicrobial resistance, this falls within the programming on immunizations, community health programs, procurement and supply to antimicrobials, and the strong communication for development profile of UNICEF.

Strengthened coordination between UN agencies important

The panel had an open and nice discussion with the participants. Photo: ReAct Europe.

In a panel discussion:

  • Werner Obermeyer Deputy Director of the WHO Office at the United States
  • James Roscoe Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the UN
  • Martha Poebe Ambassador of Ghana to the UN and
  • Paloma Escudero Director of UNICEF’s Division of Communication

provided their reflections on the work by UNICEF in relation to the global AMR agenda and the implementation of national action plans.

Strengthened coordination between all involved UN agencies and other actors was lifted as important to accelerate the response to manage AMR.

Communicate around children and their health to help AMR awareness

With UNICEF’s strong track record of effectively working in the countries, and their strong position as communicators on children’s health and rights puts them in a central role to step up the work on addressing antimicrobial resistance specifically in the context of children. Several questions and comments from the audience focused on how to best communicate around antimicrobial resistance and resistant infections, and how working on communication related to children and their health might help advance the awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance as a critical threat to the health for all of us.

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