News and Opinions  –  2019

WHA conversation on Antibiotic Resistance as a Global Development Problem co-organized by ReAct

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2019-05-29

On the margins of World Health Assembly that took place in Geneva last week and beginning this week, ReAct together with Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and South Centre organized an event on antibiotic resistance. Hosted at the UNAIDS "Health Innovation Exchange Marketplace’" the event focused on the launch of the report: When the Drugs Don’t Work: Antibiotic Resistance as a Global Development Problem that ReAct and Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation published earlier this year.

Mirfin Mpundu and Andreas Sandgren, both ReAct, discussing antibiotic resistance as a development problem with the audience.

Earlier this year, ReAct and Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation published the report When the Drugs Don’t Work: Antibiotic Resistance as a Global Development Problem. The report presents concrete examples on how antibiotic resistance is jeopardizing the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals and why it must be addressed as a development problem. In a conversation between ReAct Europe’s Andreas Sandgren, ReAct Africa’s Mirfin Mpundu, the moderator Viviana Muñoz-Tellez from the South Centre, and the audience, the content of the report was discussed. The conversation also covered the challenges that countries are facing in their work to address antibiotic resistance.

Work on ABR will help global development and system strengthening

Andreas Sandgren, Policy Advisor, ReAct Europe, stressed that there was a missed opportunity to include antibiotic resistance in the SDGs targets and indicators and therefore we are racing against time. However, with antibiotics starting to lose their effectiveness due to resistant infections, its alarming effects are far-reaching for the development of societies, and unless decisive and rapid action is taken globally and systematically it will only get worse. For this purpose, viewing antibiotic resistance as a development problem, there are also opportunities to find solutions in addressing it through the work on global development and system strengthening.

Centrally positioned focal point for ABR to help implement NAP on AMR

Mirfin Mpundu, Head of ReAct Africa, identified the importance of a centrally positioned focal point for antibiotic resistance. This person, with a designated role to coordinate the work on antibiotic resistance across sectors, can carry forward the work of not only developing a National Action Plan (NAP), but also coordinate the implementation of it. In many countries this is missing due to lack of financial means, and at large there is a lack of costed and financed National Action Plans. Therefore, there is a need to mobilize domestic and global support, both technical and financial, to move this critical work forward.

Leave no-one behind

Incorporating an antibiotic resistance perspective in the national development agenda, can be one of the means to work on strengthening national systems, that will work towards the goals of both reaching the SDGs and addressing the antibiotic resistance problem. The theme of the World Health Assembly this year was Universal Health Coverage: leaving no-one behind. Achieving Universal Health Coverage is directly linked to access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all. Given the global distribution of infectious diseases, the emergence of antibiotic resistance creates bottleneck for establishing universal health coverage globally, and no health system will be sustainable without effective antibiotics.

When the Drugs Don’t Work: Antibiotic Resistance as a Global Development Problem

This report by ReAct and Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation looks at the state of global development when the drugs don’t work and a post-antibiotic era sets in. The report shows how antibiotic resistance is a global development problem by highlighting existing data and people’s experiences. When the Drugs Don’t Work – Antibiotic Resistance as a Global Development Problem (4,1 MB, PDF).

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