UN declaration on antimicrobial resistance

22 September 2016

On 21 September 2016, the United Nations General Assembly passed a  historic declaration to fight antimicrobial resistance.

All 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly have agreed to fight drug-resistant bacteria which are estimated to kill more than 700,000 people annually. The President of the UN General Assembly convened a high-level meeting on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) which also included Member States, non-government organizations, civil society, and the private sector. The historic declaration was signed prior to the session, with all Member States unanimously agreeing to fight the threat of AMR.  This is only the fourth time that a health issue has been so high on the agenda at the UN General Assembly; the other issues were HIV, non-communicable diseases and Ebola.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said, “Antimicrobial resistance poses a fundamental, long-term threat to human health, sustainable food production and development.”

At the meeting, countries called for better use of existing, cost-effective tools for preventing infections in humans and animals, including immunization, safe water and sanitation, and good hygiene in hospitals and animal husbandry. A joint statement was issued during the meeting by the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) which highlighted some of the commitments: to strengthen the regulation of antimicrobials, improve knowledge and awareness, and, most importantly, to foster innovative approaches in using alternatives to antimicrobials and introducing new technologies.

Sweden has been an active global leader in raising awareness of antibiotic resistance.

The Swedish Minister of Health, Gabriel Wikström, stated “Things don’t usually move so fast, especially not at the UN. But all of us know it must move fast. And we haven’t yet started to catch up with AMR, let alone get ahead.”

Preventive strategies are one of the most important ways to combat AMR, especially within a hospital setting.

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