“Antimicrobials & international law: Join the resistance!”

“Antimicrobial resistance is a longstanding but increasingly urgent threat to global health. Even as the first life-saving antimicrobial medicines were developed, scientists knew that resistant microbes posed a threat. For many years the development of novel antimicrobials was sufficient to overcome most resistant microbes, but innovation has waned over the past two decades while resistance has risen.

Resistance has been estimated by some to already cause 700 000 deaths annually and – without effective action – has been predicted to cause 10 million deaths annually by 2050. The US Centres for Disease Control & Prevention and the World Health Organization now think that the world is on the cusp of a ‘post-antimicrobial era’ where infections that are easily treated today will soon be deadly.

Much like climate change, antimicrobial resistance is a global collective action problem in need of collective solutions. Everyone would benefit from cooperation on drug innovation, surveillance, research, and efforts to conserve existing drugs, yet few want to incur their part of the associated costs. This cooperation, however, is essential if the world is to grapple effectively with this important and complex problem.

At its core, resistance is not a single problem, but three interconnected problems. First is conservation; we need to ensure the responsible use of antimicrobials through prevention efforts, infection control, surveillance and appropriate prescribing. Second, despite the need for conservation, we also need to ensure access. We must ensure that the prevention tools, diagnostics and therapies needed to reduce the infectious disease burden are available and affordable to everyone, everywhere, who needs them. Last, we need innovation; we need to develop the next generation of antimicrobials to replace those that no longer work and to invent new vaccines, diagnostics and infection control technologies to provide alternatives.”

Read more: PLOS Blogs


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