The growing global burden of antibiotic resistance that threatens to take health care back to an era where ordinary infections might once again become fatal is down to mismanagement of antibiotics for the last seven decades.
At a historic three day conference at Uppsala University, Sweden, 190 delegates representing 45 countries and many leading stake holders - civil society, academia, industry, governments, authorities, supranational organizations - agreed on Wednesday to turn a new page and move towards concerted action on antibiotic resistance.
"This is a starting point for a global compact on antibiotic resistance", says Professor Otto Cars, chairman of ReAct, the international network for Action on Antibiotic Resistance.
The new signals from the Uppsala meeting include:
- A shared conviction that antibiotic resistance is a universal problem. Like global warming, it requires joint action, not least by governmental alliances.
- A clear signal from the pharmaceutical industry that return of investment on research and development of new antibiotics and diagnostic tools will have to be de-linked from market sales in order to boost necessary innovation while yet limiting the use of antibiotics. This requires a new business model where private and public sectors cooperate.
- A strong recommendation to all stakeholders to speed up the efforts to limit unnecessary use of antibiotics, while at the same time making the medicines affordable and accessible in developing countries.
- A commitment to improve the monitoring of antibiotic resistance across the world, through shared data and increased efforts. A global network of surveillance will require common methods, and is crucial for both prudent use and needs driven development of new agents.
The year 2011 marks a new beginning. ReAct is pleased to note that the World Health Day will be devoted to antimicrobial resistance. Other initiatives across the world next year include:
- A final report from TATFAR, The Transatlantic Task Force on Antibiotic Resistance.
- A policy meeting on antibiotic resistance in Dehli, India.
- A WHO Action Plan on Antibiotic Resistance.
- A number of regional initiatives, including in Southeast Asia, Africa and The Middle East.