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Antibiotic Resistance is highlighted at U.N. General Assembly

On 21 September 2016, world leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly in New York to commit to fighting antimicrobial resistance together.

Antibiotic Resistance is highlighted at U.N. General Assembly

It was a full day “high-level meeting” dedicated to addressing this global health threat. This was only the fourth time a health issue has been discussed by the UN General Assembly (HIV, noncommunicable diseases and Ebola being the others).

Just before world leaders convened for the meeting, all 193 member states agreed in a declaration signed on Wednesday to combat the proliferation of antibiotic resistance.

Leaders highlighted market failures, and called for new incentives for investment in research and development of new, effective and affordable medicines, rapid diagnostic tests, and other important therapies to replace those that are losing their power. They pledged to nurture innovative approaches using new technologies for diagnosis.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, antimicrobial resistance poses “a fundamental, long-term threat to human health, sustainable food production and development. It is not that it may happen in the future. It is a very present reality – in all parts of the world, in developing and developed countries; in rural and urban areas; in hospitals; on farms and in communities,”

The World Health Organization Director-General, Margaret Chan, said on Wednesday that it was imperative for consumers and medical providers to rely less on antibiotics for disease treatment.

“On current trends, a common disease like gonorrhea may become untreatable,” Chan said. “Doctors facing patients will have to say, ‘I’m sorry - there’s nothing I can do for you.’”

World leaders stressed that affordability and access to existing and new antibiotics, vaccines and other medical tools should be a global priority and should take into account the needs of all countries.

Countries reaffirmed their commitment to develop national action plans on AMR, based on the Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance [pdf 236KB] — the blueprint for tackling AMR, developed in 2015 by WHO. A key objective of this plan is to integrate rapid diagnostic tools into clinical, pharmacy and veterinary practices in order to guide optimal use of antibiotics.

Leaders at the UN meeting called on WHO, FAO and OIE, in collaboration with development banks such the World Bank other relevant stakeholders, to coordinate their planning and actions and to report back to the UN General Assembly in September 2018.

To learn more about the meeting, visit:

Meeting information:

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