GHP August 2015

ghp August 2015 | 31 industry insight Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is fast becoming more prevalent as microbes become increasingly resistant to modern medicines. As treatment and infection prevention become increasingly difficult, Sweden has made it clear that it is taking a tough stance against this international issue. In May the country’s, Minister for Health Care, Public Health and Sport for the governing Swedish Social Democratic Party Gabriel Wikström debuted a min- isterial declaration which included commitments to implement the global action plan against antimicro- bial resistance (to be dealt with by the World Health Assembly later that same week) and to ensure that heads of government, ministers and global leaders take on the challenge of growing resistance. Alongside Professor Dame Sally Davis, Chief Medical Officer for England, Wikström called for a high-level meeting on antimicrobial resistance during the UN General Assembly in 2016. In addition to Mr Wikström and Ms Davis, partici- pants at the meeting, which took place as part of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, included health ministers from China, Germany, Norway, Pakistan, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, the United States and Zambia, and the deputy health minister from Brazil. Wikström made it clear that he fully endorsed the World Health Assembly taking a stance against AMR. “When this assembly adopts the Global Action Plan on AMR we are showing the world that we Member States take this problem seriously and are prepared to act. No action today - no cure tomorrow. So I hope - I trust - this session, this Assembly - will also reflect on what we need to see about ourselves. As individuals, as member states, and together. On what we really can do, and on what we really must do. To have the WHO that the world needs.” As a result of the conference the WHA launched a global action plan to tackle the issue of AMR, which set out five objectives to deal with the problem: 1. To improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance. 2. To strengthen surveillance and research. 3. To reduce the incidence of infection. 4. To optimize the use of antimicrobial medicines. 5. To ensure sustainable investment in countering antimicrobial resistance. The plan urges member states adapt these points to their national priorities and specific contexts and mo- bilizing additional resources for its implementation. If adoption of the global plan is successful, govern- ments will have in place by May 2017, a national action plan on antimicrobial resistance that is aligned with the global action plan. These individual plans need to cover the use of antimicrobial medicines in animal health and agriculture, as well as for human health. The World Health Organization has pledged that it will work with countries to support the develop- ment and implementation of their national plans, and will report progress to the Health Assembly in 2017. Malnutrition and immunization gaps were also target- ed as part of the plan, with member states agreeing a set of indicators to monitor progress for global nu- trition targets set in 2012 as part of a comprehensive implementation plan on maternal, infant and young child nutrition. The Assembly also agreed a resolution to im- prove access to sustainable supplies of affordable vaccines as part of a drive to ensure lower income countries are able to ensure vaccination for their entire population. Wikström called for the support of the WHO during his speech on AMR issue, making it clear that the organisation needed to support those countries who were committed to ending the crisis. “Therefore we simply must have a strong World Health Organisation. A WHO that adapts and evolves. Just like the great challenges, and the very real threats we know are adapting and evolving - and lie ahead. A WHO that supports member states so that they can build and sustain strong and resilient health systems. A WHO that has the capacity to act at both a global and a local level. We cannot abandon overwhelmed nations with fragile health systems. We cannot leave global health secu- rity to private organisations with limited resources. We cannot just pay lip service and turn our backs. We cannot tie strings to our funding - and so tie hands. Of course continued reform of the WHO is needed. I would like to thank DG Chan for her com- mitment to reform and urge her to intensify efforts. The WHO must learn from past mistakes - just as it must be the WHO that leads and coordinates in global health.” Speaking at the Uppsala Health Summit, on the 2nd June Wikström again made it clear early on in his speech that he was firmly behind the World Health Organisation, and that Sweden would be a keen proponent of WHO and would support their cause to end AMR globally. “Sweden fully supports a strong WHO. It seems self-evident that only a strong World Health Organ- isation can deal with global threats to health. An organisation that must, and will adapt and evolve. And an organisation that will support Member States in building strong and resilient health systems. Because without such health systems worldwide, as Ebola taught us, we simply cannot fight global health threats like AMR.” He was also keen to emphasise that the issue was an international one and did not apply exclusively to Sweden, with third world countries often being the worst effected by the problem. “Every year AMR (Antimicrobial resistance) already kills half a million people worldwide. The costs, in human and in financial terms are already huge. A heavy price for poorer countries who can least afford it.” With the WHA implementing the international plan to target AMR, the WHO has a tough fight to ensure compliance and success, but the backing of the Swedish Government offers a lifeline and puts pressure on other nations to contribute to the fight against this fatal epidemic.