News and Opinions  –  2019

Tracking antimicrobial resistance in the Sustainable Development Goals

Share the article


Effective antibiotics remain the cornerstone of modern-day medicine. Organ transplants, surgical prophylaxis, saving newborns from sepsis, warding off infections during cancer chemotherapy — these successes depend on ensuring that these life-saving drugs continue working. An estimated 700,000 die each year from drug-resistant infections. If antimicrobial remains unchecked, the human toll will rise. It is a high-stakes game of Jenga: if antibiotics fail, we will assuredly fall short of attaining SDG 3.

Earlier this week, Professor Anthony So, Director of ReAct Strategic Policy Program and Prateek Sharma, Research Associate at the same, published an article in the SDG Knowledge HUB on why it is important with indicators for antimicrobial resistance within the Sustainable Development Goals.

Infographics how AMR affects SDGs
Five ways antimicrobial resistance disrupts the Sustainable Development Goals.

In retrospect, it seems hardly possible that the Millennium Development Goals failed to mention tobacco control, but the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control helped ensure a much needed course correction. Today the same might be said of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a challenge so great that it became only the fourth time that the UN General Assembly considered a global health issue. In the 2016 UN Political Declaration of the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on antimicrobial resistance, Member States affirmed that:

“antimicrobial resistance challenges the sustainability and effectiveness of the public health response to these and other diseases as well as gains in health and development and the attainment of the 2030 Agenda.”

Yet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) do not have a single indicator specific to antimicrobial resistance.

Indicators specific to AMR within the Sustainable Development Goals

  1. Without progress on antimicrobial resistance, attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals would fall short. Yet the indicators to track the Sustainable Development Goals have thus far failed to include tracking of antimicrobial resistance.
  2. During the 2020 Comprehensive Review, the proposal of an AMR-specific indicator to track two priority drug-resistant pathogens in the SDGs takes an important step to close this gap.
  3. Tracking access, but not excess use of antimicrobials is also critical.

More news and opinion from 2019