The two-day Call to Action, which took place in Accra in November, was co-hosted with the governments of Ghana and Thailand, and the United Nations Foundation, and organised in partnership with the Inter-Agency Coordination Group (IACG) on Antimicrobial Resistance.
Health representatives from national governments and agencies, civil society, academia, the private sector and global philanthropies were invited to the Call to Action to focus on how to address the most critical gaps in tackling the development and spread of drug-resistant infections.
Five ideas that stood out from the event
We all learn more from open and inclusive conversations. This year’s event had greater participation from the global south and wider antimicrobrial resistance (AMR) stakeholders. The result was an engaging discussion highlighting the wide range of actors working to address AMR across all geographies. We need this varied discussion to be replicated by the UN and member states to ensure they are bringing in a diverse range of voices to inform strong global governance on AMR.
Emotions, not just facts, drive decision-making. The session on behaviour change made clear that improving understanding and awareness is not enough. If we want to inspire people to act in ways that can reduce AMR, we must rethink our tactics. Creative approaches such as comic books and dance can make a powerful impact.
Civil society and the private sector are willing and able to do more. Representatives from both these groups were candid about how they could contribute their wealth of experience to the fight against AMR. We now look to national and global leaders to engage them in the development of policies and strategies.
Local successes must be identified, celebrated and nurtured. Pioneering grassroots projects are using innovative approaches to create big impacts on AMR. We need to develop better ways to identify these pioneers, and enable the expansion and facilitate the sharing of their methods across borders, linking them to National Action Plans and adding to the global pool of expertise.
The UN Interagency Coordination Group will push AMR up the global agenda in 2019. Representatives from the IACG were keen to share their progress, exploring the key challenges and bottlenecks they are looking at, and to seek insights and feedback from others. The publication of their draft report at the beginning of next year will provide further opportunities for everyone working in the field to engage and push AMR up the global agenda.
The first day of the event highlighted the work of individuals and organisations taking pioneering action to tackle drug-resistant infections. It showcased some of the best examples of how national action and innovations have been implemented, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
On the second day the focus was on how effective local and national action can be translated to sustainable action at an international and multilateral level.
Other news from the event
The OECD launched a new report, Stemming the Superbug Tide: Just a Few Dollars More at a Call to Action side event. It says that dealing with AMR complications could cost up to $3.5bn a year in OECD countries and that short-term, low-cost solutions implemented now could be crucial in averting this.
Event partner FIND announced the Diagnostics Use Accelerator, supported by catalytic funding from the UK and Swiss governments. Its aim is to speed up data generation to give policy makers the best real-world diagnostic solutions.
Consumer Reports launched the next version of the Chain Action Report, grading leading American fast food outlets on their policies to reduce antibiotic supply in their beef system.
The Danish government announced the International Centre for Interdisciplinary Solutions on AMR. The Copenhagen centre will act as an independent global knowledge node for generating, aggregating and disseminating evidence on antimicrobial drug resistance. It has a starting budget of $10m, 75% of which is coming from the Danish government. This will go up to $35m in 2023 and will be largely financed by international donors.
Dame Sally Davies announced that the Fleming Fund is providing £1m to support a new International Reference Centre for AMR. It will provide technical assistance and quality assurance in one-health surveillance.
Promoting pioneers winners
Ahead of Call to Action, we held an open call for inspiring individuals and organisations working to tackle drug-resistant infections. We chose two initiatives to present their work at the event.
The winners were:
Community dialogue to address antibiotic resistance (Malaria Consortium, University of Leeds, ARK Foundation). Volunteers hold regular meetings with community members to explore the different health issues affecting them and how they can be addressed. Between April and July 2018, 55 volunteers hosted more than 200 meetings in Comilla District, Bangladesh.
Superheroes Against Superbugs (Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance). This initiative uses comics to start conversations about how to tackle antimicrobial resistance in India. The aim is to raise children’s awareness of the perils of superbugs.