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Researchers ask the UN to reframe actions on antimicrobial resistance

The United Nations organizes General Assembly in New York City, September 21st. In the connection the UN is expected to release the first ever UN resolution on combating antibiotic resistance.1

According to McKenna it is generally accepted now that antibiotic resistance kills 23.000 people each year in the United States, 25.000 in Europe, and magnitudes more in developing countries. Antibiotic resistance affects every society and can only be ameliorated by many actions performed consistently over a long period of time.1 

Just before the UN meeting in a few weeks Peter Søgaard Jørgensen and colleagues have published a commentary in Nature where they highlight the fact that addressing resistance requires global collective action and global targets to scale back the overuse of antibiotics. To fight against antibiotic resistance requires changes to institutions, regulations, education and community norms. They urge institutions to organise awareness campaigns and international and national coalitions to be broadened.2

In her thorough review on the topic McKenna brings up the fact that medicine and public health have understood the antibiotic resistance problem already for a while, and reserachers and experts have actively raised up this issue. Over the summer 2016, a rotating group of the world’s top researchers on antibiotic resistance, led by Ramanan Laxminarayan, attempted to lay out a menu for the meeting in publications in several scientific journals.3

During the past two years, several political actions have been made on this issue as well. McKenna states that first was the founding, in the United Kingdom, of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, a project chartered by then Prime Minister David Cameron and headed by global economist Lord Jim O’Neill. The project conducted a two-year examination of antibiotic resistance worldwide and issued a detailed prescription for reform. President Barack Obama established a permanent body of experts, the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, and charge it with implementing an US national strategy for reducing resistant illnesses and stimulating innovation for new diagnostics and drugs. In January, 2016 the business leaders attending the World Economic Forum called for more research and development funding. In May 2016, the World Health Assembly, the governing body of the WHO, agreed to support an “action plan” the WHO drafted in 2015, including committing the 194 countries that make up the assembly to producing national control plans by 2017. And in June 2016, the G7 group of industrialised nations, meeting in Japan, agreed that resistance is an international priority.1


1       Maryn McKenna. In First, UN Will Consider Antibiotic Resistance. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/09/in-first--united-nations-will-consider-antibiotic-resistance/. 8.9.2016.

2       Jørgensen,P.S., Wernli, D., Carroll, S.P. et al. 2016. Use antimicrobials wisely, Nature 8 September 2016 Vol. 537. http://www.nature.com/news/use-antimicrobials-wisely-1.20534?WT.mc_id=TWT_NatureNews. 7.9.2016.

3       Laxminarayan R. et al. Access to effective antimicrobials: a worldwide challenge. Lancet 387, 168–175. 2016.


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