News and Opinions  –  2024

UN High Level Meeting on AMR: Countdown begins

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Preparatory work is currently underway for the one-day High-Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance planned this fall, convened by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The High-Level Meeting aims to secure strong political commitment and accelerated action across all sectors and at all levels to address the urgent threat of antimicrobial resistance.

An image of the United Nations General Assembly conference room in New York.
NEW YORK, USA – Sep 21, 2016: General view of the conference room of 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Photo: Shutterstock.

The High-Level Meeting is proposed to be held on September 26, 2024 in New York, on the overall theme of “Investing in the present and securing our future together: Accelerating multi-sectoral global, regional and national actions to address Antimicrobial Resistance.”

Co-facilitators: Malta and Barbados

In October 2023, Malta and Barbados were officially appointed co-facilitators for the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance (HLM AMR). This February, as one of their first tasks, the co-facilitators, in collaboration with the Quadripartite (WHO, FAO, UNEP and WOAH) and the AMR Global Leaders Group, have presented options for the scope, modalities and format of the High-Level Meeting on AMR.

Proposed structure for the High-Level Meeting on AMR

Similar to the 2016 High-Level Meeting on AMR as well as other recent high-level meetings, it is proposed that the meeting should consist of:

  • a plenary segment, where member states will make their statements and
  • two parallel multi-stakeholder panels.

The meeting will include heads of state, government leaders, UN entities, international organizations, civil society, academia, the private sector and more.

The expectation is that the UN High-Level Meeting on AMR will be able to conclude with a concise and action-oriented political declaration that goes beyond the 2016 Declaration including by:

  • defining targets
  • spelling out mechanisms for accountability and
  • set a politically defined vision to provide clear direction and accelerate the global response to antimicrobial resistance.

Preparatory meetings to discuss evidence and targets

As one of the many meetings organized this spring in preparation for the upcoming HLM on AMR, the first Inaugural Evidence for Action (E4A) Dialogue on Antimicrobial Resistance was held in Malta on February 6-7.

The meeting was hosted by the Deputy Prime Minister of Malta to identify the most pressing research questions from AMR champions in political and policy circles, and connect those questions with top-level researchers – who will either point to existing data or trigger new research to fill the gaps.

A portrait of Mirfin Mpundu, Director, ReAct Africa.
Mirfin Mpundu, Director, ReAct Africa.

“There is a great appetite to address the the slow global, regional and national response that needs to be accelerated to address AMR and its dire effects on the One Health ecosystem, “

says Dr Mirfin Mpundu, Director, ReAct Africa, who attended the meeting.

According to Dr. Mpundu discussions at the E4A emphasized the need for establishing an Independent Expert Panel as recommended by the Inter-Agency Coordinating Group (IACG) to provide that leadership and guidance that is evidence-based and driven by public health needs.

There was also concern expressed over the lack of sustainable access to both diagnostics and therapeutics that perpetuates inequalities globally. Addressing this problem would require an integration of both the pull and push incentives and funding research for both diagnostics and therapeutics, together with strong global coordination.

ReAct key messages ahead of the HLM on AMR

A red speech bubble with the text "ReAct's briefing for the UN HLM AMR 2024"
Click image to download brief as PDF.

On its part, React has released a policy brief on the UNGA High Level Meeting on AMR with recommendations and suggestions for inclusion in the final resolution to be adopted.

The brief calls upon governments to adopt a joint vision that reflects a more engaging framing and positive agenda for the global AMR response. ReAct proposes the following:

“Reduce the burden of bacterial infections and ensure equitable and sustainable access to effective antibiotic treatment for a all – for a world free from untreatable infections”.

Other key messages of the ReAct policy brief include

• Progress on addressing AMR since the last UN High Level Meeting on this theme in 2016 has been too slow. Most commitments made at the UN HLM in 2016 have not been delivered on, and bacterial resistance continues to develop and spread, now causing more deaths than HIV and malaria. Urgent action is needed.

• AMR reflects global inequity – the burden falls disproportionately on poorer countries while they have the least means to address it. Tackling AMR is critical for sustainable development goals.

• The end goal should be equitable access to effective antibiotics for all. This requires balancing reduced over-use with improved access, across human, animals, agriculture i.e. through a One Health approach.

• Much greater funding and political prioritization of AMR is urgently needed, especially for poorer countries. Innovative financing models should be considered and explored.

• Global governance and accountability mechanisms need strengthening to drive progress, including better data collection and monitoring.