Can we do more to prevent antimicrobial resistance?

Monday, 23 November 2020

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a natural process of pathogens’ adaptation to the drugs we use to kill them, which should normally have a slow evolution-like pace. Our inappropriate use of common antibiotics, antiviral agents and other drugs on all fronts of human and animal health speedwarps this process. 

The often imperceptible tidal wave of AMR already kills some 700,000 people each year. But it threatens to become a “tsunami”, as World Health Organization Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom recently said. A report last year by a special ad hoc UN group, “No Time To Wait” projected that the world could see up to 10 million deaths annually by 2050.

Against this grim reality, however, the current pandemic may also be serving as something of a wakeup call fostering more action on AMR, among both health care providers, as well as as patients. This year, during the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, 18-24 November, IAPO took part in several important initiatives, positioning patients, caregivers, patients advocates and patient organisations high on the agenda for future partnerships and actions in the AMR fight.

joint call for more action was issued Wednesday by IAPO along with the International Hospital Federation, the International Society for Quality in Health Care, and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations. The statement calls for the development of more innovative partnerships of healthcare providers, patients and the business sector to tackle the growing AMR threat while improving healthcare safety and quality worldwide. It aims to raise awareness of AMR, promote antibiotic stewardship and call upon policymakers to create the appropriate conditions to attract investments in R&D to ensure that a sufficient pipeline of antibiotics will remain available to treat both common and rare infections.

On the same day, Health First Europe launched the first European patients’ advocacy group on AMR, which aims to raise awareness about antimicrobial resistance and to help reduce antibiotic misuse in Europe. The AMR patient advocacy group includes several national patient associations from across Europe including IAPO members: Fondazione The Bridge (Italy), Save Liver Association for Patients – SLAP (Macedonia), Pelvic Pain Support Network (EU), Malta Health Network (Malta) and The Patients Association (UK), that have expressed interest through IAPO call in joining the group and exchanging knowledge and experience in AMR advocacy and awareness raising at national and European level, to be able to better tackle the issue of growing antimicrobial resistance and healthcare associated infections (HAI) which represents a significant threat to our health and lives.

In addition, IAPO along with patient organisations from different regions and countries has developed A Global Patient Consensus Statement and a Call to Action, that aims to convene civil society groups representing patients, carers and advocates in a global AMR Patient Alliance, to be launched in the first week of December. The Global Consensus Statement and the AMR Patient Alliance were also promoted at the 14th European Patients’ Rights Day, organized by Active Citizenship Network on 18-19 November 2020.

The AMR Patient Alliance will be a place where patients can exchange views, be educated, and acquire knowledge and resources that we need to raise awareness about the importance of sustaining the efficacy of antibiotics - for as long as possible, for as many patients as possible.