World Antibiotic Awareness Week 13-19 November to draw attention to global AMR threat

World Antibiotic Awareness Week will take place next week from 13-19 November, shining a spotlight on the growing crisis of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The first descriptions of infectious diseases becoming resistant to the antimicrobial treatments available were in 1948 and were for drugs used to treat tuberculosis (TB).

Although major gains have been made in medical R&D, the problem of drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) has only worsened. In 2016, there were an estimated 600,000 new cases of DR-TB. It is predicted that by 2050, DR-TB will lead to 2.5 million deaths annually, which would be a quarter of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) deaths.

“AMR is one of the most critical challenges the world faces. Strengthening the response to TB is a cornerstone in the fight against AMR.” said José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union.

World Antibiotic Awareness Week coincides with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global political meeting of ministers in Moscow, Russia, on “Ending TB in the Sustainable Development Era: A Multisectoral Response”. The meeting aims to accelerate implementation of the WHO End TB Strategy, with immediate action addressing the DR-TB crisis, and will then inform the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting (HLM) on TB in 2018.

The Russian Federation is one of the three countries in the world with the highest number of DR-TB cases, with those three countries (India, China and Russia) bearing more than half of the global burden. The incidence of DR-TB in Russia continues to increase, meaning it is crucial to the success of the international effort to end TB.

The WHO describes antibiotic resistance as one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today. Earlier this year, the WHO’s Priority Pathogen Report, highlighted DR-TB as a priority for research and development in the battle against AMR. The report went on to highlight five key reasons why TB is a global priority for research and development.

Echoing this concern, the WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros, has said, “We cannot underestimate this crisis and we must do better to identify, track and manage these drug-resistant TB cases as part of our AMR efforts.”

Dr Paula I Fujiwara, Scientific Director of The Union said: “We need new and innovative approaches to research and development if we’re to solve the crisis of antimicrobial resistance. We look forward to working further with global leaders to accelerate progress against TB and AMR.”

As part of our work to combat this growing threat, The Union is working with partners on The Life Prize, a new way to unite researchers and incentivise new TB research and development funding.

Grania Brigden, Project Lead for The Life Prize said: “The Life Prize (formerly known as the 3P Project) aims to overcome the barriers to TB treatment development to ensure a healthy TB drug pipeline and ensuring that promising candidates are developed as combination regimens and are affordable and accessible to all those in need.”

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