The Alliance to Save our Antibiotics Welcomes UN Declaration on Antibiotic Resistance

The Alliance to Save our Antibiotics Welcomes UN Declaration on Antibiotic Resistance

The Alliance to Save our Antibiotics welcomes the signing of a ground-breaking UN Political Declaration which commits to tacking the global antibiotic resistance crisis.

Today, Wednesday 21st September, all 193 countries of the United Nations signed the declaration at the UN General Assembly high-level meeting in New York, thereby committing to mobilise innovation in drug development, to increase public awareness of the major threat to human health from increasing levels of antibiotic resistance, and to plug the gaps in national surveillance data for antibiotic sales for use in both humans and animals. The declaration ratifies the 2015 Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance, drafted by the World Health Organization with support from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health.

Emma Rose from the Alliance said: “This is a landmark moment in the global drive to tackle antibiotic resistance. The challenge now facing governments, pharmaceutical companies, and the medical and veterinary sectors is how to take forward this momentum and apply it in practice. With antibiotic use in global livestock farming predicted to increase by 67% between 2010 and 2030, due in large part to increasing intensification and livestock production, it’s imperative that efforts to tackle the overuse of antibiotics in farming form a central part of national action plans.

“Both the UK Government-commissioned O’Neill report and the UN FAO clearly state that more intensive farming systems use higher levels of antibiotics. Governments must now commit to ending the routine prophylactic mass-medication of groups of animals, which remains very common in intensive pig and poultry production. They should also prioritise a shift towards higher-welfare systems which reduce the need for antibiotics.

“The current legislative reviews to the EU Veterinary Medicinal Products and Medicated Feed Regulations provide a significant opportunity for European countries to put today’s commitment into practice. With trialogues about to begin on both files, Member States must seize this opportunity and support strong measures to curb farm antibiotic use.”

As the third-ever general assembly high-level meeting to focus on health issues, today’s meeting is testament to the success of coordinated efforts over the last few years to place AMR on the global agenda. Commentators are declaring that today’s breakthrough marks a shift in the global response to the AMR crisis comparable to coordinated global efforts which seek to tackle climate change.

Countries are tasked with creating their own strategies for the innovation of new technologies, for promoting antibiotic stewardship practices, and with the effective financing of these initiatives. As part of this, the Alliance believes that governments must set ambitious species-specific reduction targets for farm antibiotic use, commit to undertaking more scientific research and greater monitoring of antibiotic resistance in the foodchain, and ensure that adequate financing is made available for incentivising antibiotic stewardship in livestock farming.

Signatories to the declaration will report back to the UN on progress in two years’ time.