Drug resistance

Antibiotic resistance - a threat to global health security

Side-event at the Sixty-sixth WHA

Date: May 2013
Place: WHO, Geneva, Switzerland

Key messages from the side-event

Antibiotic resistance is a rapidly evolving health issue extending far beyond the human health sector.

Awareness of the seriousness of the situation and the need for urgent action is required at the highest political level, globally and at country level.

A cross sectoral approach including agriculture, fisheries, development and economics is required for effective action at global and national levels.

WHO leadership and technical support is crucial and the necessary resources must be allocated.

The WHO Global Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance has a central role in coordinating collaboration and offering assistance to develop national and regional action programmes.

Increased global cooperation and partnership is needed to identify and promote incentives needed to develop effective business models for development of new therapeutics, diagnostics and antibiotics, including ways to control the distribution, use and misuse of antibiotics.

There is a need to promote “open research” where first stage research is shared for development of new tools, medicines and medical devices.

Ensure all parts of society have access to high quality products and recognition of the need to reach out to across sectors and disciplines to encourage debate and find solutions.

About the side-event

Sweden and the United Kingdom organized a side-event entitled Antibiotic resistance (ABR) - a threat to global health security and the case for action which was attended by more than 250 people from around 40 countries.

The opening speakers were the Swedish Minister of Health, Mr Göran Hägglund, and Professor Dame Sally C. Davies, UK Chief Medical Officer, together with Professor Otto Cars, Sweden, made the case for urgent global action. Dr Keiji Fukuda, Assistant Director-General for Health Security and Environment, made the comparison with an emerging health emergency and outlined the work of WHO. Written contributions were made by Austria, Brazil, China, Germany, Malaysia and the Netherlands and by organisations in Asia.

Senior officials from three countries outlined their actions to counteract the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. Dr Madeleine de Rosas Valera, Under Secretary, Department of Health, Philippines stated that "It is important to highlight that the misuse of antibiotics occurs not only in the treatment of humans but also in that of animals, and the need to improve the monitoring of the use of antibiotics in all relevant sectors."

Mr R.K. Jain, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, India stated that "The sale and distribution of antibiotics, particularly third & fourth generation antibiotics, should be adequately regulated to ensure their rational use."

Finally, Professor Chris Baggoley, Chief Medical Officer, Australia stated that "A good health service standard together with surveillance, international engagement, communication between all levels and regulation of antibiotic use is vital."