During World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW), the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) hosted a live webinar and expert panel discussion, sponsored by Merck, titled, AMR Threat to National Health Systems and Economies: A Call-to-Action. The discussion centered around two recently published reports: the 2021 AMR Preparedness Index, a first-of-its-kind report created in partnership with the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) and funded by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), and the London School of Economics’ Developing National Strategies to Tackle Antimicrobial Resistance across Countries in the Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (EEMEA) Region Report, which presents in-depth analysis of national action plans (NAPs) in Egypt, Russia, and South Africa.
The session featured introductory remarks from Paul Schaper (Merck) and Gemma Buckland Merrett (Wellcome Trust) and a preview of research findings from Dr. Michael Anderson (LSE). GCOA CEO Mike Hodin moderated a panel discussion with global AMR experts James Anderson (IFPMA), Amanda Jezek (IDSA) and Danielle Peterse (CAIC) on the steps governments must take to identify and address critical gaps in their AMR policies, secure greater funding for AMR initiatives and strengthen their overall AMR governance frameworks. At a time of growing global urgency around the AMR crisis, the GCOA session called for a renewed focus on AMR governance and decisive actions at the highest levels of government.
Key takeaways from the expert discussion include:
1. AMR and aging are inextricably linked. Increased resistance disproportionately impacts older adults, who are more susceptible to drug-resistant infections. The miracle of longevity is threatened by the lack of effective antibiotics.
2. Recent efforts from global decision makers have been ineffective in reviving the drug-development pipeline for new antimicrobials. Despite consensus on the need for robust pull incentives to stimulate antimicrobial development, most countries have not taken decisive action. Multilateral organizations have also failed to take sufficient ownership over this issue.
3. Countries must better support their national action plans. While many countries have crafted National Action Plans in recent years, many lack the sufficient funding to be properly implemented
4. Long-term thinking, broader ownership needed to effectively tackle AMR. We must find alternative approaches to improving national action plans that build in robust engagement from patients, civil society, and NGO’s to help drive implementation and accountability.
5. Awareness of the AMR crisis is low. Governments, experts and civil society must do more to ensure their populations understand the risk of AMR and the need for judicious use of antimicrobials.
6. AMR remains a complex and multifaceted challenge. Recent efforts by organizations like Wellcome Trust and WHO are helping to make the issue more widely understood.
7. An all-of-the-above approach is needed to tackle AMR. A One Health approach is key to addressing AMR. Countries must simultaneously jumpstart their broken antimicrobial development pipelines, strengthen stewardship programs, reduce misuse and overprescription, bolster surveillance and monitoring programs, raise overall awareness, improve access for those who need antimicrobials, and enhance environmental safeguards.
Watch the webinar below!