Antimicrobial resistance & responding to its challenges

August 23, 2018

The threat of antimicrobial resistance on a global scale was discussed at the recent 2018 VHA Annual Conference last week with Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer of England and co-convener of the UN Inter-Agency Co-ordination Group on antimicrobial resistance and a leading voice, advocating for awareness and action of this global health problem, and Tom Symondson, VHA Chief Executive.

‘Drug resistant infections are rising steadily and they’re rising because we don’t prevent infections well enough and bugs keep building resistance,’ Professor Dame Sally Davies said.
‘The world is getting steadily worse and drug resistant infection deaths going up year on year.’

Dame Sally outlined that the UK government was taking a multifaceted approach to dealing with antimicrobial resistance, working on educating consumers about the effects of overuse of antibiotics and infection prevention, but also encouraging investors to invest wisely and not in companies that misuse antibiotics.

In addition to this, the UK government has been working heavily at encouraging research on antimicrobial resistance. ‘We need new science and new innovation in prevention and treatment,’ said Dame Sally. The UK recently rolled out a $10 million campaign to encourage development of innovative approaches by researchers, on new antibiotics and antimicrobial resistant strains.

Working with the World Health Organization, Dame Sally was able to formulate a global action plan from which participating countries are able to formulate their own national action plan and foreign policy.  In the UK, the risk of antimicrobial resistance has been placed equal to terrorism on its risks register.

Providing a local perspective on the issue was Professor Karin Thursky, Director of the National Centre for Antimicrobial Stewardship. ‘Australia has been leading internationally in several areas of the issue, particularly with the development of antimicrobial stewardship programs and the way we undertake our antibiotic surveys have been quite innovative compared to some of the more traditional ways of monitoring antibiotics around the world,’ she said.

Prof. Thursky suggested that changes to the discourse on how antimicrobial resistance is discussed needed to change. ‘As an antimicrobial steward, I want to make the case that antibiotic use is not just about antimicrobial resistance, it’s also about patient safety,’ said Prof. Thursky.

‘It’s actually not about giving antibiotics, it’s about making sure that when you do give antibiotics, it’s the right antibiotic, at the right time, for the right reason and that there are systems in place to monitor this.’

Watch the interview with Dame Sally Davies here.