The Director’s Corner

The Director’s Corner

A message from José Luis Castro

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a scourge of our times. It threatens to reverse progress made in combatting serious disease. It means that previously curable illnesses will no longer be treatable. On 21 September, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will address this issue – only the third time a health topic has been discussed at a high-level UNGA meeting.

I am delighted to be attending this meeting on behalf of The Union, where a number of points of view will be presented in order to organise a global response to AMR and ensure future efficacy of the world’s antibiotics.

The Union has been involved in this issue at a strategic and fundamental level, both in formulating policy and working on the frontline. It was clinical research from The Union and its partners that proved critical in under-pinning the World Health Organization’s recent recommendation of a shortened multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) treatment regimen – nine months from the previous 24-month standard.

But if this momentous decision is going to be effective, we have to move quickly to ensure the new regimen is rolled out and starts to benefit patients. Any delay has unthinkable consequences. In the next three years, an additional 1.5 million people will develop MDR-TB.

The Union is urging countries to adopt the nine-month regimen into their clinical guidelines – but this can only happen at national level with the support of all Ministers of Health and a commitment from them to lead this process in their own countries. The Union stands ready to provide all the necessary technical assistance and advocacy support.

Our World Conference on Lung Health in Liverpool this October has as its theme ‘Confronting Resistance: Fundamentals to Innovations’ where we will bring together over 3,000 participants to debate the threat of resistance in all its forms. That includes political resistance and lack of will to take action; resistance to innovative methods, resistance to debate. The UNGA meeting must similarly be a platform for honest debate of all these issues, harness the necessary political commitment and navigate towards sustainable solutions.

The only way to make real impact is by collective effort, with everyone working for and with each other towards a common goal. In so doing, we can accelerate a global response on AMR that will benefit future generations everywhere.

José Luis Castro
Executive Director
The Union


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