UK 5 year AMR Strategy and 20 year vision

28 January 2019

The UK Government have launched their new strategy for tackling the global threat posed by antimicrobial resistance

Last Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the UK Health Secretary, launched the government’s 20-year vision and 5-year national action plan to contain and control antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

In his press conference Matt Hancock warned that antibiotic resistance “is as big a danger to humanity as climate change or warfare”, and that now is the time to act if we want to mitigate the potential catastrophic impact of AMR.

Tackling AMR on different fronts

The government’s plan takes a One-Health approach focussing on three key strategies to implement across human health and the livestock industry, underpinned by several measurable targets for success.

Firstly they aim to reduce the need for antimicrobials by preventing infections, reducing antimicrobial use in humans and animals, and improving diagnostic support for prescription of antimicrobials.

The next key strategy is to encourage the development of new drugs to tackle AMR, where previously research has been neglected due to the limited financial incentives for pharmaceutical companies to invest. To address this, the government have proposed a new model in which they could pay for drugs based on the value they bring to the NHS rather than on the quantity sold.  

AMR and global challenges

The plan recognises that AMR threatens several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including health, poverty and clean water and sanitation, and highlights the need for global collaboration across multiple stakeholders in the fight against AMR. In it the UK pledges to continue to lead the global AMR agenda through leading international policy dialogues, urging international joined-up action to address AMR and backing internationally agreed solutions to promote stewardship of antimicrobials.

What we are doing

With the support of our members, we have been active in raising awareness of AMR and providing microbiological expertise to policy-makers, funding-bodies and other stakeholders on this important issue. We will continue to collaborate with partners in the Learned Society Partnership on Antimicrobial Resistance (LeSPAR) and have identified AMR as a key cross-cutting issue in our “A Sustainable Future” policy project looking at the role of Microbiology in achieving the UN SDGs.

Member of the Microbiology Society Dr Tina Joshi is Lecturer in Molecular Microbiology at the University of Plymouth. She says: “I think the majority of microbiologists working in the area of AMR are aware of the statistic that by 2050 10 million people are predicted to die from AMR infections globally (O’Neill Amr Review, 2014). It is perhaps easy to dismiss this statistic as an exaggeration; however, when one considers epidemiology and transmission of multi-drug resistant infections, the ease with which antibiotics can be purchased over the counter in certain countries and their use in agriculture globally then this does not sound far-fetched. It is even more worrying that the UK in particular prescribed a total of 27 million antibiotics when only 13 million were needed in 2013 and, more recently, a quarter of antibiotics are still over prescribed. This overuse and misuse is contributing to the problem as well as a lack of engagement by industry and global governments amongst others. Antibiotics underpin all of modern medicine- so what will people do when their infections cannot be treated? The answer to this is complex, requires a One Health approach and is one of the biggest problems that humanity is facing.”

Image: Fahroni/Thinkstock.